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I 



Copifright, 1908, by Doubleday, Page & Company 



1W551 



••• : •- 



Copyright, 1907. 1808, by Joseph Conrad 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

A MILITARY TALE 

BY 

JOSEPH CONRAD 

AUTBOB or LOBD JtK, TOUTH. ETC 




IIJ.IISTRATIONS BY 
DAN SAYRE GBOE8BECK 



Gasmqt Cttt Nxw ¥obk 

DOIJBLEDAY. PAGE & COMPANY 

1012 




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THE POINT OF HONOR 

A BULITARY TALE 



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THE POINT OF HONOR 

A MILITARY TALE 



' >i 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



" You wiU ■fight no more dueU iwrn " F«»iitiBpieoe 

fAcma 

TAOB 

" Botsmtg before a sylph-like form reclmiag on 

a couch " 14 

" The angry cloth of arms pled that prim 

garden " 28 

" You take the nearest brute. Colonel D'Hvhert " 88 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

A HIUTARY TALE 



NAPOLEON THE FIRST, whose ca-"..;/ ., 
reer had the quality of a duel against '-"•' 
the whole of Europe, disliked duelling 
between the officers of his army. The great mili- 
tary emperor was not a swashbuckler, and had 
little respect for tradition. 

Nevertheless, a story of duelling which became 
a legend in the army runs through the epic of 
imperial wars. To the surprise and admiration of 
their feUows, two officers, hke insane artists try- 
ing to gild refined gold or paint the lily, pursued 
their private contest through the years of imi- 
versal carnage. They were officers of cavalry, 
and their connection vrith the high-spirited but 
fanciful animal which carries men into battle 
seems particularly appropriate. It would be dif- 
ficult to imagine for heroes of this legend two 
officers of infantry of the line, for example, 

[3] 



THE PO^SV'-OF HONOR 
whose fantasy, iS-.'{itmed by much walking exer- 
cise and wjipge Valour necessarily must be of a 
more plDd.fflhg kind. As to artillery, or engineers 
wbosfeheads are kept cool on a diet of mathemat- 
.-.i^^'if is simply unthinkable. 
;..'■ * The names of the two officers were Feraud 
and D'Hubert, and they were both lieutenants 
in a regiment of hussars, but not in the same regi- 
ment. 

Feraud was doing regimental work, but Lieu- 
tenant D'Hubert had the good fortune to be at- 
tached to the person of the general commanding 
the division, as offider d'ordonnance. It was in 
Strasbourg, and in this agreeable and important 
garrison, they were enjoying greatly a short in- 
terval of peace. They were enjoying it, though 
both intensely warlike, because it was a sword- 
sharpening, firelock-cleaning peace dear to a 
military heart and undamaging to military pres- 
tige inasmuch that no one believed in its sincerity 
or duration. 

Under those historical circumstances so favour- 
able to the proper appreciation of military leisure 

[4] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
Lieutenant D'Hubert could have been seen one 
fine afternoon making his way along the street of 
a cheerful subui'b towards Lieutenant Feraud's 
quarters, which were in a private house with a 
garden at the back, belonging to an old maiden 
lady. 

His knock at the door was answered instantly 
by a young maid in Alsatian costume. Her fresh 
complexion and her long eyelashes, which she 
lowered modestly at the sight of the tall officer, 
caused Lieutenant D'Hubert, who was accessible 
to esthetic impressions, to relax the cold, on-duty 
expression of his face. At the same time he 
observed that the girl had over her arm a pair of 
hussar's breeches, red with a blue stripe. 

"Lieutenant Feraud at home?" he inquired 
benevolently. 

" Oh, no, sir. He went out at six this morn- 
ing." 

And the little maid tried to close the door, but 
Lieutenant D'Hubert, opposing this move with 
gentle firmness, stepped into the anteroom jing- 
ling his spurs. 

[fi] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

" Come, my dear. You don't mean to say he 
has not heen home since six o'clock this mom- 
ing?" 

Saying these words. Lieutenant D'Hubert 
opened without ceremony the door of a room so 
comfortable and neatly ordered that only from 
internal evidence in the shape of boots, rniiforms 
and military accoutrements, did he acquire the 
conviction that it was Lieutenant Feraud's room. 
And he saw also that Lieutenant Feraud was not 
at home. The truthful maid had followed him 
and looked up inquisitively. 

" H'm," said Lieutenant D'Hubert, greatly 
disappointed, for he had already visited all the 
haunts where a lieutenant of hussars could be 
found of a fine afternoon. " And do you happen 
to know, my dear, why he went out at six this 
morning? " 

" No," she answered readily. " He came home 
late at night and snored. I heard him when I got 
up at five. Then he dressed himself in his oldest 
uniform and went out. Ser\'iee, I suppose." 

" Service? Not a bit of it! " cried Lieutenant 
[6] 



1 



THE POINT OF HONOR 



D'Hubert. " Learn, my child, that he went out 
so early to fight a duel with a civilian," 

She heard the news without a quiver of her 
dark eyelashes. It was very obvious that the 
actions of Lieutenant Feraud were generally 
above criticism. She only looked up for a moment 
in mute surprise, and Lieutenant D'Hubert con- 
eluded from this absence of emotion that she must 
have seen Lieutenant Feraud since the morning. 
He looked around the room. 

" Come," he insisted, with confidential famiU- 
arity. " He's perhaps somewhere in the house 
now? " 

She shook her head. 

" So much the worse for him," continued 
Lieutenant D'Hubert, in a tone of anxious con- 
viction. " But he has been home this morn- 
mgV 

This time the pretty maid nodded slightly. 

" He has [ " cried Lieutenant D'Hubert. " And 
went out again? What for? Couldn't he keep 
quietly indoors? What a lunatic I My dear 
duld. . . ." 

[7] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
Lieutenant D'Hubert's natural kindness of 
disposition and strong sense of comradeship 
helped his powers of observation, which gener- 
ally were not remarkable. He changed his tone to 
a most insinuating softness; and gazing at the 
hussar's breeches hanging over the arm of the 
girl, he appealed to the interest she took in Lieu- 
tenant Feraud's comfort and happiness. He was 
pressing and persuasive. He used his eyes, which 
were large and fine, with excellent effect. His 
anxiety to get hold at once of Lieutenant Fe- 
raud, for Lieutenant Feraud's own good, seemed 
so genuine that at last it overcame the girl's 
discretion. Unluckily she had not much to tell. 
Lieutenant Feraud had returned home shortly 
before ten; had walked straight into his room 
and had thrown himself on his bed to resume his 
slumbers. She had heard him snore rather louder 
than before far into the afternoon. Then he got 
up, put on his best uniform and went out. That 
rwas all she knew. 

She raised her candid eyes up to Lieutenant 
D'Hubert, who stared at her incredulously. 

[8] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

" It's incredible. Gone parading the town in 
his best uniforml My dear child, don't you know 
that he ran that civilian tJirough this morning? 
Clean through as you spit a hare." 

She accepted this gruesome intelligence with- 
out any signs of distress. But she pressed her lips 
together thoughtfully. 

" He isn't parading the town," she remarked^ 
in a low tone. " Far from it." 

" The civilian's family is making an awful 
row," continued Lieutenant D'Hubert, pursuing 
his train of thought. " And the general is very 
angry. It's one of the best famihes in the town. 
Feraud ought to have kept close at least. . . ." 

" What will the general do to him? " inquired 
the girl anxiously. 

" He won't have his head cut off, to be sure," 
answered Lieutenant D'Hubert. " But his con- 
duct is positively indecent. He's making no end 
of trouble for himself by this sort of bravado." 

" But he isn't parading the town," the maid 
murmured again. 

" Why, yes ! Now I think of it. I haven't seen 
[9] 



aia, 

4 



TJIE POINT OF HONOR 
him anywhere. What on earth has he done with 
himself? " 

" He's gone to pay a call," suggested the maid, 
after a moment of silence. 

Lieutenant D'Hubert was surprised. 

" A call! Do you mean a call on a lady? The 
cheek of the man. But how do you know this ? " 

Without concealing her woman's scorn for the 
denseness of the masculine mind, the pretty maid 
reminded him that Lieutenant Feraud had ar- 
rayed himself in his hest uniform hefore going 
out. He had also put on his newest dolman, she 
added in a tone as if this conversation were get- 
ting on her nerves and turned away brusquely. 
Lieutenant D'Hubert, without questioning the 
accuracy of the impHed deduction, did not see 
that it advanced him much on his official quest. 
For his quest after Lieutenant Feraud had an 
official character. He did not know any of the 
women this fellow who had run a man through 
in the morning was likely to call on in the after- 
noon. The two officers knew each other but slight- 
ly. He bit his gloved finger in perplexity. 

[10] 



I 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
I " he exclaimed. " Call on the devil." 
;irl, with her back to him and folding the 
hussar's breeches on a chair, said with a vexed 
little laugh: 

t"Oh, no! On Madame de Lionne." 
Lieutenant D'Hubert whistled softly. Madame 
e Lionne, the wife of a high official, had a 
ell-known salon and some pretensions to sensi- 
bility and elegance. The husband was a civilian 
and old, but tlie society of the salon was young 
and military for the greater part. Lieutenant 
D'Hubert had whistled, not because the idea of 
pursuing Lieutenant Feraud into that very salon 

Pas in the least distasteful to him, but because 
iving but lately arrived in Strasbourg he had 
not the time as yet to get an introduction to 
Madame de Lionne. And what was that swash- 
buckler Feraud doing there? He did not seem the 
^sort of man who . . . 

^1 "Are you certain of what you say?" asked 
^Pjieutenant D'Hubert. 

The girl was perfectly certain. Without tum- 
)g round to look at him she explained that the 
[11] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
coachman of their next-door neighbours knew 
the maitre-d'hotel of Madame de Lionne. In this 
way she got her information. And she was per- 
fectly certain. In giving this assurance she 
sighed. Lieutenant Feraud called there nearly 
every afternoon. 

"Ah, bah!" exclaimed D'Hubert ironically. 
His opinion of Madame de Lionne went down 
several degrees. Lieutenant Feraud did not seem 
to him specially worthy of attention on the part 
of a woman with a reputation for sensibihty and 
elegance. But there was no saying. At bottom 
they were all alike — very practi^l rather than 
idealistic. Lieutenant D'Hubert, however, did not 
allow his mind to dwell on these considerations. 

" By thunder! " he reflected aloud. " The gen- 
eral goes there sometimes. If he happens to find 
the fellow making eyes at the lady there will be 
the devil to pay. Our general is not a very ac- 
commodating person, I can tell you." 

" Go quickly then. Don't stand here now I've 
told you where he is," cried the girl, colouring to 
the eyes. 

[12] 



t 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

" Thanks, my dear. I don't know what I would 
have done without you." 

After manifesting his gratitude in an aggres- 
sive way which at first was repulsed violently and 
then suhmitted to with a sudden and still more 
repellent indifference. Lieutenant D 'Hubert took 
his departure. 

He clanked and jingled along the streets with 
a martial swagger. To run a comrade to earth in 
a drawing-room where he was not known did not 
trouble him in the least. A uniform is a social 
passport. His position as officier d'ordonnance 
of the general added to his assurance. Moreover, 
now he knew where to find Lieutenant Feraud, 
he had no option. It was a service matter. 

Madame de Lionne's house had an excellent 
appearance. A man in livery opening the door of 
a large drawing-room with a waxed floor, shout- 
ed his name and stood aside to let him pass. 
It was a reception day. The ladies wearing 
hats surcharged with a profusion of feathers, 
sheathed Jn clinging white gowns from their 
armpits to the tips of their low satin shoes, looked 

[13] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
sylphlike and cool in a great display of bare 
necks and arms. The men who talked with them, 
on the contrary, were arrayed heavily in ample, 
colom-ed garments with stiff collars up to their 
ears and thick sashes romid their waists. Lieuten- 
ant D'Hubert made his unabashed way across the 
room, and bowing low before a sylphlike form 
reclining on a couch, offered his apologies for 
this intrusion, which nothing could excuse but the 
extreme urgency of the service order he had to 
communicate to his comrade Feraud. He pro- 
posed to himself to come presently in a more 
regular manner and beg forgiveness for inter- 
rupting this interesting conversation. . . . 

A bare arm was extended to him with gracious 
condescension even before he had finished speak- 
ing. He pressed the hand respectfully to his lips 
and made the mental remark that it was bony. 
Madame de Lionne was a blonde with too fine 
a skin and a long face. 

" C'est fa! " she said, with an ethereal smile, 
disclosing a set of large teeth. " Come this even- 
ing to plead for your forgiveness." 

[14] 




L 



Bowing before a sylph-like form reclining on a couch " 



4 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

" I will not fail, madame." 

Meantime Lieutenant Feraud, splendid in his 
new dolman and the extremely polished boots of 
his calling, sat on a chair within a foot of the 
couch and, one hand propped on his thigh, with 
the other twirled his moustache to a point with- 
out uttering a sound. At a significant glance from 
D'Hubert he rose without alacrity and followed 
him into the recess of a window. 

" What is it you want with me? " he asked in 
a tone of annoyance, which astonished not a little 
the other. Lieutenant D'Hubert could not imag- 
ine that in the innocence of his heart and simphc- 
ity of his conscience Lieutenant Feraud took a 
view of his duel in which neither remorse nor yet 
a rational appreliension of consequences had any 
place. Though Lieutenant Feraud had no clear 
recollection how the quarrel had originated (it 
was begun in an estabhshment where beer and 
wine are dnmk late at night), he had not the 
sUghtest doubt of being himself the outraged 
party. He had secured two experienced friends 
for his seconds. Everything had been done ac- 

[15] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
cording to the rules governing that sort of 
adventure. And a duel is obviously fought for the 
purpose of someone being at least hurt if not 
killed outright. The civilian got hurt. That also 
was in order. Lieutenant Feraud was perfectly 
tranquil. But Lieutenant D'Hubert mistook this 
simple attitude for affectation and spoke with 
some heat. 

" I am directed by the general to give you the 
order to go at once to your quarters and remain 
there under close arrest." 

It was now the turn of Lieutenant Feraud to 
be astonished. 

" What the devil are you telling me there? " he 
murmured faintly, and fell into such profound 
wonder that he could only follow mechanically 
the motions of Lieutenant D'Hubert. The two 
officers — one tall, with an interesting face and a 
moustache the colour of ripe corn, the other short 
and sturdy, with a hooked nose and a thick crop 
of black, curly hair — approached the mistress of 
the house to take their leave. Madame de Lionne, 
a woman of eclectic taste, smiled upon these 

[16] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
armed young men with impartial sensibility and 
an equal share of interest. Madame de Lionne 
took her delight in the infinite variety of the hu- 
man species. All the eyes in the drawing-room 
followed the departing officers, one strutting, the 
other striding, with curiosity. When the door had 
closed after them one or two men who had al- 
ready heard of the duel imparted the information 
to the sylphlike ladies, who received it with httle 
shrieks of humane concern. 

Meantime the two hussars walked side by side. 
Lieutenant Feraud trying to fathom the hidden 
reason of things which in this instance eluded 
the grasp of his intellect; Lieutenant D'Hubert 
feehng bored by the part he had to play ; because 
the general's instructions were that he should see 
personally that Lieutenant Feraud carried out 
his orders to the letter and at once. 

" The chief seems to know this animal," he 
thought, eyeing his companion, whose round 
face, the round eyes and even the twisted-up jet 
black little moustache seemed animated by his 
mental exasperation before the incomprehensi- 

[17] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
ble. And aloud he observed rather reproachfully, 
" The general is in a devilish fury with you." 

Lieutenant Feraud stopped short on the edge 
of the pavement and cried in the accents of un- 
mistakable sincerity: " What on earth for? " The 
innocence of the fiery Gascon soul was depicted 
in the manner in which he seized his head in both 
his hands as if to prevent it bursting with 
perplexity. 

" For the duel," said Lieutenant D'Hubert 
curtly. He was annoyed greatly by this sort of 
perverse fooling. 

"The duel! The . . ." 

Lieutenant Feraud passed from one paroxysm 
of astonishment into another. He dropped his 
hands and walked on slowly trying to reconcile 
this information with the state of his own feel- 
ings. It was impossible. He burst out indignant- 
ly: 

" Was I to let that sauerkraut-eating civilian 
wipe his boots on the uniform of the Seventh 
Hussars?" 

Lieutenant D'Hubert could not be altogettier 
[18] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 



K 



sympathetic toward that sentiment. This little 
fellow is a lunatic, he thought to himself, but 
there is something in what he says. 

Of course, I don't know how far you were 
justified," he said soothingly. " And the general 
himself may not be exactly informed. A lot of 
people have been deafening him with their lamen- 
I tations." 

^K "Ah, he is not exactly informed," mumbled 
^'Lieutenant Feraud, walking faster and faster as 
his choler at the injustice of his fate began to 
I rise. " He is not exactly. . . . And he orders me 
I under close arrest with God knows what after- 
twud." 

^H " Don't excite yourself like this," remonstrat- 

^Kd the other. " That young man's people are very 

^influential, you know, and it looks bad enough on 

the face of it. The general had to take notice of 

their complaint at once. I don't think he means to 

be over-severe with you. It is best for you to be 

I, kept out of sight for a while." 

^f " I am very much obliged to the general," 

muttered Lieutenant Feraud through his teeth. 

[193 




THE POINT OF HONOH 
"And perhaps you would say I ought to be 
grateful to you too for the trouble you have 
taken to hunt me up in the drawing-room of ' a 
lady who . . ." 

" Frankly," interrupted Lieutenant D'Hu- 
bert, with an innocent laugh, " I think you ought 
to be. I had no end of trouble to find out where 
you were. It wasn't exactly the place for you to 
dispart yourself in under the circumstances. If 
the general had caught you there making eyes at 
the goddess of the temple. . . . Oh, my word I 
. . . He hates to be bothered with complaints 
against his officers, you know. And it looked un- 
commonly like sheer bravado." 

The two officers had arrived now at the street 
door of Lieutenant Feraud's lodgings. The lat- 
ter turned toward his companion. " Lieutenant 
D'Hubert," he said, "I have something to say to 
you which can't be said very well in the street. 
You can't refuse to come in." 

The pretty maid had opened the door. Lieu- 
tenant Feraud brushed past her brusquely and 
she raised her scared, questioning eyes to Lieu- 

t«0] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 



■ shruj 
r In 



H, 



enant D'Hubert, who could do nothing but 
^shrug his shoulders slightly as he followed with 
rked reluctance. 

In his room Lieutenant Feraud unhooked the 
clasp, flung his new dolman on the bed, and 
folding his arms across his chest, turned to the 
other hussar. 

" Do you imagine I am a man to submit tame- 
ly to injustice? " he inquired in a boisterous 
-voice. 

W " Oh, do be reasonable," remonstrated Lieu- 
tenant D'Hubert. 

I am reasonable. I am perfectly reasonable," 
retorted the other, ominously lowering his voice. 

KI can't call the general to account for his be- 
aviour, but you are going to answer to me for 
ours." 
^m " I can't listen to this nonsense," murmiired 
B^ieutenant D'Hubert, making a slightly con- 
^temptuous grimace. 

You call that nonsense. It seems to me 
perfectly clear. Unless you don't understand 
■"rench." 

[21] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
What on earth do you mean ? " 

" I mean," screamed suddenly Lieutenant Fe- 
raud, " to cut off your ears to teach you not to 
disturb me, orders or no orders, when I am talk- 
ing to a lady." 

A profound silence followed this mad declara- 
tion — and through the open window Lieutenant 
D'Hubert heard the little birds singing sanely 
in the garden. He said coldly : 

" Whyl If you take that tone, of course 1 will 
hold myself at your disposal whenever you are at 
liberty to attend to this affair. But I don't think 
you will cut off my ears." 

" I am going to attend to it at once," declared 
Lieutenant Feraud, with extreme truculence. 
" If you are thinking of displaying your airs and 
graces to-night in Madame de Lionne's salon 
you are very much mistaken." 

" ReaUy,"said Lieutenant D'Hubert, who was 
beginning to feel irritated, " you are an imprac- 
ticable sort of fellow. The general's orders to me 
were to put you under arrest, not to car\'e you 
into small pieces. Good -morning." Turning his 

[32] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
back on the little Gascon who, always sober in 
his potations, was as though bom intoxicated, 
with the sunshine of his wine-ripening country, 
the northnian, who could drink hard on occa- 
sion, but was bom sober under the watery skies of 
Picardy, made calmly for the door. Hearing, 
however, the unmistakable sound, behind his 
back, of a sword drawn from the scabbard, he 
had no option but to stop. 

" Devil take this mad Southerner," he thought, 
spinning round and surveying with composure 
the warlike posture of Lieutenant Feraud with 
the unsheathed sword in his hand. 

" At once. At once," stuttered Feraud, beside 
himself. 

" You had my answer," said the other, keeping 
his temper very well. 

At first he had been only vexed and somewhat 
amused. But now his face got clouded. He was 
asking himself seriously how he could manage to 
get away. Obviously it was impossible to run 
from a man with a sword, and as to fighting 
him, it seemed completely out of the question. 

[28] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
He waited awhile, then said exactly what was in 
his heart : 

" Drop this; I won't fight you now. I won't be 
made ridiculous." 

*' Ah, you won't 1 " hissed the Gascon. " I sup- 
pose you prefer to be made infamous. Do you 
hear what I say? . . . Infamous! Infamous! 
Infamous!" he shrieked, raising and falling on 
his toes and getting very red in the face. Lieu- 
tenant D'Hubert, on the contrary, became very 
pale at the sound of the unsavoury word, then 
flushed pink to the roots of his fair hair. 

" But you can't go out to fight ; you are under 
arrest, you lunatic," he objected, with angry 
scorn. 

" There's the garden. It's big enough to lay 
out your long carcass in," spluttered out Lieuten- 
ant Feraud with sucli ardour that somehow the 
anger of the cooler man subsided. 

" This is perfectly absurd," he said, glad 
enough to think he had found a way out of it for 
the moment. " We will never get any of our com- 
rades to serve as seconds. It's preposterous." 

[24] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
*' Seconds! Damn the seconds 1 We don't want 
any seconds. Don't you worry about any seconds. 
I will send word to your friends to come and 
bury you when I am done. This is no time for 
ceremonies. And if you want any witnesses, I'll 
send word to the old girl to put her head out of a 
window at the back. Stay! There's the gar- 
dener. He'U do. He's as deaf as a post, but he 
has two eyes in his head. Come along. I will 
teach you, my staflF officer, that the carrying 
about of a general's orders is not always child's 
play." 

While thus discoursing he had unbuckled his 
empty scabbard. He sent it flying under the bed, 
and, lowering the point of the sword, brushed 
past the perplexed Lieutenant D'Hubert, cry- ■ 
ing: " Follow me." Directly he had flung open 
tlie door a faint shriek was heard, and the pretty 
maid, who had been listening at the keyhole, 
staggered backward, putting the backs of her 
hands over her eyes. He didn't seem to see her, 
but as he was crossing the anteroom she ran after 
him and seized his left arm. He shook her off and 

[25] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
then she rushed upon Lieutenant D'Hubert and 
clawed at the sleeve of his uniform. 

" Wretched man," she sobbed despairingly. 
" Is this what you wanted to find him for? " 

" Let me go," entreated Lieutenant D'Hubert, 
trying to disengage himself gently. " It's like 
being in a madhouse," he protested with exas- 
peration. " Do let me go, I won't do him any 
harm." 

A fiendish laugh from Lieutenant Feraud 
commented that assurance. " Come along," he 
cried impatiently, with a stamp of his foot. 

And Lieutenant D'Hubert did follow. He 
could do nothing else. But in vindication of his 
sanity it must be recorded that as he passed out 
of the anteroom the notion of opening the street 
door and bolting out presented itself to this 
brave youth, only, of course, to be instantly dis- 
missed : for he felt siu^ that the other would pur- 
sue him without shame or compunction. And the 
prospect of an officer of hussars being chased 
along the street by another oflicer of hussars 
with a naked sword could not be for a moment 

[«6] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
entertained. Therefore he followed into the gar- 
den. Behind them tiie girl tottered out too. With 
ashy lips and wild, scared eyes, she surrendered 
to a dreadful cm-iosity. She had also a vague 
notion of rushing, if need be, between Lieuten- 
ant Feraud and death. 

The deaf gardener, utterly unconscious of ap- 
proaching footsteps, went on watering his flow- 
ers till Lieutenant Feraud thumped him on the 
back. Beholding suddenly an infui'iated man, 
flourishing a big sabre, the old chap, trembling 
in all his limbs, dropped the watering pot. At 
once Lieutenant Feraud kicked it away with 
great animosity; then seizing the gardener by 
the throat, backed him against a tree and held 
him there shouting in his ear: 

" Stay here and look on. You understand 
you've got to look on. Don't dare budge from the 
spot." 

Lieutenant D'Hubert, coming slowly down 
the walk, imclasped his dolman with undisguised 
reluctance. Even then, with his hand aheady on 
his sword, he hesitated to draw, till a roar " En 

[27] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
garde, fichtre! What do you think you came here 
for? " and the rash of his adversary forced him to 
put himself as quickly as possible in a posture of 
defence. 

The angry clash of arms filled that prim gar- 
den, which hitherto had known no more warlike 
sound than the chck of clipping shears ; and pres- 
ently the upper part of an old lady's body was 
projected out of a window upstairs. She flung 
her arms above her white cap, and began scold- 
ing in a thin, cracked voice. The gardener re- 
mained glued to the tree looking on, his toothless 
mouth open in idiotic astonishment, and a little 
farther up the walk the pretty girl, as if held 
by a spell, ran to and fro on a small grass plot, 
wringing her hands and muttering erazily. She 
did not rush between the combatants. The on- 
slaughts of Lieutenant Feraud were so fierce that 
her heart failed her. 

Lieutenant D'Hubert, his faculties concen- 
trated upon defence, needed aU. his skill and 
science of the sword to stop the rushes of his 
adversary. Twice already he had had to break 

[28] 



I 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
ground. It bothered him to feel his foothold 
made insecure by the round diy gravel of the 
path rolling under the hard soles of his. boots. 
This was most imsuitable ground, he thought, 
keeping a watchful, narrowed gaze shaded by 
long eyelashes upon the fiery starhig eyeballs 
of his thick-set adversary. This absurd affair 
would ruin his reputation of a sensible, steady, 
promising young officer. It would damage, at 
any rate, his immediate prospects and lose him 
the good wiU of his general. These worldly pre- 
occupations were no doubt misplaced in view 
of the solemnity of the moment. For a duel 
whether regarded as a ceremony in the cult of 
honour or even when regrettably casual and re- 
duced in its moral essence to a distinguished form 
of manly sport, demands perfect singleness of 
intention, a homicidal austerity of mood. On the 
other hand, this vivid concern for the future in a 
man occupied in keeping sudden death at sword's 
length from his breast, had not a bad effect, inas- 
much as it began to rouse the slow anger of 
I^ieutenant D'Hubert. Some seventy seconds had 

[29] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
elapsed since they had crossed steel and Lieu- 
tenant D'Hubert had to break ground again in 
order to avoid impahng his reckless adversary 
like a beetle for a cabinet of specimens. The re- 
sult was tliat, misapprehending the motive, Lieu- 
tenant Feraufl, giving vent to triumphant snarls, 
pressed his attack with renewed vigour. 

This enraged animal, thought D'Hubert, will 
have me against the wall directly. He imagined 
himself much closer to the house than he was; 
and he dared not turn his head, such an act under 
the circumstances being equivalent to deUberate 
suicide. It seemed to him that he was keeping 
his adversary off with his eyes mucli more than 
with his point. Lieutenant Feraud crouched 
and bounded with a tigerish, ferocious agility — 
enough to trouble the stoutest heart. But what 
was more appalling than the fury of a wild beast 
accomplishing in all innocence of heart a natural 
function, was the fixity of savage purpose man 
alone is capable of displaying. Lieutenant 
D'Hubert in the midst of his worldly preoccu- 
pations perceived it at last. It was an absurd and 

[80] 



• 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
damaging affair to be drawn into. But whatever 
silly intention the fellow had started with, it was 
clear that by this time he meant to kill — nothing 
else. He meant it with an intensity of will utterly 
beyond the inferior faculties of a tiger. 

As is the case with constitutionally brave men, 
the full view of the danger interested Lieutenant 
D'Hubert. And directly he got properly inter- 
ested, the length of his arm and the coolness of 
his head told in his favour. It was the turn of 
Lieutenant Feraud to recoil. He did this with 
a blood-curdling grunt of baffled rage. He made 
a swift feint and then rushed straight forward. 

"Ahl you would, would you?" Lieutenant 
D'Hubert exclaimed mentally to himself. The 
combat had lasted nearly two minutes, time 
enough for any man to get embittered, apart 
from the merits of the quarrel. And all at once 
it was over. Trying to close breast to breast xmder 
his adversary's guard, Lieutenant Feraud re- 
ceived a slash on his shortened arm. He did not 
feel it in the least, but it checked his rush, and his 
feet sUpping on the gravel, he fell backward with 

[81] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
great violence. The shock jarred his boiling brain 
into the perfect quietude of insensibility. Simul- 
taneously with his fall the pretty servant girl 
shrieked piercingly; but the old maiden lady at 
the window ceased her scolding and with great 
presence of mind began to cross herself. 

In the first moment, seeing his adversary lying 
perfectly still, his face to the sky and his toes 
turned up. Lieutenant D'Hubert thought he had 
kille<i him outright. The impression of having 
slashed hard enough to cut his man clean in two 
abode with him for awhile in an exaggerated im- 
pression of the right good will he bad put into 
the blow. He went down on his knees by the side 
of the prostrate body. Discovering that not even 
the arm was severed, a sUght sense of disappoint- 
ment mingled with the feeling of relief. But, in- 
deed, he did not want the death of that sinner. 
The affair was ugly enough as it stood. Lieuten- 
ant D'Hubert addressed himself at once to the 
task of stopping the bleeding. In this task it was 
his fate to be ridiaJously impeded by the pretty 
maid. The girl, fiUing the garden with cries for 

[38] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
help, flung herself upon his defenceless back and, 
twilling her fingers in his hair, tugged at his 
head. Why she should choose to hinder him at 
this precise moment he could not in the least 
understand. He did not try. It was all like a very 
wicked and harassing dream. Twice, to save him- 
self from being pulled over, he had to rise and 
throw her off. He did this stoically, without a 
word, kneeling down again at once to go on 
with his work. But when the work was done he 
seized both her arms and held them down. Her 
cap was half off, her face was red, her eyes glared 
with crazy boldness. He looked mildly into them 
while she called him a wretch, a traitor and a 
murderer many times in succession. This did not 
annoy him so much as the conviction that in her 
scuffles she had managed to scratch his face abun- 
dantly. Ridicide would be added to the scandal 
of the story. He imagined it making its way 
through the garrison, through the whole army, 
with every possible distortion of motive and sen- 
timent and circumstance, spreading a doubt 
upon the sanity of his conduct and the distinc- 

[33] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
tion of his taste even into the very bosom of his 
honourable family. It was all very well for that 
fellow Feraud, who had no connections, no fam- 
ily to speak of, and no quality but courage which, 
anyhow, was a matter of course, and possessed 
by every single trooper in the whole mass of 
French cavalry. Still holding the wrists of the 
girl in a strong grip, Lieutenant D'Hubert 
looked over his shoulder. Lieutenant Feraud had 
opened his eyes. He did not move. Like a man 
just waking from a deep sleep he stared with a 
drowsy expression at the evening sky. 

Lieutenant D'Hubert's urgent shouts to the 
old gardener produced no effect — not so much as 
to make him shut his toothless mouth. Then he 
remembered that the man was stone deaf. All 
that time the girl, attempting to free her wrists, 
struggled, not with maidenly coyness but like 
a sort of pretty dumb fury, not even refraining 
from kicking his shins now and then. He con- 
tinued to hold her as if in a vice, his instinct tell- 
ing him that were he to let her go she would fly 
at his eyes. But he was greatly himiihated by his 

[»4] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
position. At last she gave up, more exhausted 
than appeased, he feared. Nevertheless he at- 
tempted to get out of this wicked dream by way 
of negotiation. 

" Listen to me," he said as cahnly as he could. 
" WUl you promise to run for a surgeon if I let 
you go?" 

He was profoundly afflicted when, panting, 
sobbing, and choking, she made it clear that she 
would do nothing of the kind. On the contrary, 
her incoherent intentions were to remain in the 
garden and fight with her nails and her teeth 
for the protection of the prostrate man. This was 
horrible. 

" My dear child," he cried in despair, " is it 
possible that you think me capable of murdermg 
a wounded adversary? Is it. . . . Be quiet, you 
little wildcat, you," he added. 

She struggled. A thick sleepy voice said be- 
hind him: 

" What are you up to with that girl? " 

Lieutenant Feraiid had raised himself on his 
good arm. He was looking sleepily at his other 

[36] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
arm, at the mess of blood on his uniform, at a 
small red pool on the ground, at his sabre lying 
a foot away on the path. Then he laid himself 
down gently again to tliink it all out "" f«r "' a 
thundering headache would perm 
operations. 

Lieutenant D'Hubert released the girl's wrists. 
She flew away down the path and crouched 
wildly by the side of the vanquished warrior. 
The sliades of night were falling on the little 
trim garden with this touching group whence 
proceeded low murmurs of sorrow and compas- 
sion with other feeble sounds of a different char- 
acter as if an imperfectly awake invalid were 
trying to swear. Lieutenant D'Hubert went 
away, too exasperated to care what would hap- 
pen. 

He passed through the silent house and con- 
gratulated himself upon the dusk concealing his 
gory hands and scratched face from the passers- 
by. But this story could by no means be con- 
cealed. He dreaded the discredit and ridicule 
above everything, and was painfully aware of 

[86] 





■' I he angry lUmh of iirm* fillril that prim garden" 



• • 



% 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
sneaking through the back streets to his quar- 
ters. In one of these quiet side streets the sounds 
of a flute coming out of the open window of a 
lighted upstairs room in a modest house inter- 
rupted his dismal reflections. It was being played 
with a deliberate, persevering virtuosity, and 
through the fioriti\rcs of the tune one could even 
hear the tiiimip of the foot beating time on the 
floor. 

Lieutenant D'Hubert shouted a name which 
was tliat of an army surgeon whom he knew 
fairly weU. The sounds of the flute ceased and 
the musician appeared at the window, his in- 
strument stUl in his hand, peering into the 
street. 

"Who calls? You, D'Hubert! What brings 
you this way? " 

He did not like to be disturbed when he was 
playing the flute. He was a man whose hair had 
turned gray already in the thankless task of ty- 
ing up wounds on battlefields where others reaped 
advancement and glory. 

" I want you to go at once and see F&raud. 
[37] \ 



THE POINT OP HONOR 
You know Lieutenant Feraud? He lives 
down the second street. It's but a step from 
here." 

" What's the matter with him? " 

" Wounded." 

" Are you sure? " 

"Sure!" cried D'Hubert. "I come from 
there." 

" That's amusing," said the elderly surgeon. 
Amusing was his favourite word ; hut the expres- 
sion of his face when he pronounced it never cor- 
responded. He was a stolid man. " Come in," he 
added. " I'll get ready in a moment." 

" Thanks. I will. I want to wash my hands in 
your room." 

Lieutenant D'Hubert found the surgeon oc- 
cupied in unscrewing his flute and packing the 
pieces methodically in a velvet-lined case. He 
turned his head. 

" Water there — in the comer. Your hands do 
want washing." 

*' I've stopped the bleeding," said Lieutenant 
D'Hubert. " But you had better make haste. 

[88] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
It's rather more than ten minutes ago, you 
know." 

The surgeon did not hurry his movements. 

" What's the matter? Dressing came off? 
That's amusing. I've heen husy in the hospital 
all day, but somebody has told me tliat he hadn't 
a scratch." 

" Not the same duel probably," growled 
moodily Ijieutenant D'Hubert, wiping his hands 
on a coarse towel. 

"Not the same. . . . What? Another? It 
would take the very devil to make me go out 
twice in one day." He looked narrowly at Lieu- 
tenant D'Hubert. " How did you come by that 
scratched face? Both sides too — and symmetri- 
cal. It's amusing." 

" Very," snarled Lieutenant D'Hubert. "And 
you wUl find liis slashed arm amusing too. It 
will keep both of you amused for quite a long 
time." 

The doctor was mystified and impressed by the 
brusque bitterness of Lieutenant D'Hubert's 
tone. They left the house together, and in the 

[39] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
street he was still more mystified by his con- 
duct. 

"Aren't you coming with me?" he asked. 

" No," said Lieutenant D'Hubert. " You can 
find the house by yourself. The front door will 
be open very likely." 

" AH right. Where's his 1-oom? " 

" Ground floor. But you had better go right 
through and look in the garden first." 

This astonishing piece of information made 
the surgeon go off without further parley. Lieu- 
tenant D'Hubert regained his quarters nursing 
a hot and uneasy indignation. He dreaded the 
chafiF of his comrades almost as much as the 
anger of his superiors. He felt as though he had 
been entrapped into a damaging exposure. The 
truth was confoundedly grotesque and embar- 
rassing to justify; putting aside the irregularity 
of the combat itself which made it come dan- 
gerously near a criminal offence. Like all men 
without much imagination, which is such a help 
in the processes of reflective thought, Lieutenant 
D'Hubert became frightfiilly harassed by the 

[40] I 




^^ THE POINT OF HONOR ^ 

obvious aspects of his predicament. He was cer- 
tainly glad that he had not killed Lieutenant 
Feraud outside all rules and without the regular 
witnesses proper to such a transaction. Uncom- 
monly glad. At the same time he felt as though 
he would have liked to wring his neck for him 
without ceremony. 

He was still under the s>vay of these contra- 
dictory sentiments when the surgeon amateur of 
the flute came to see him. More than three days 
had elapsed. Lieutenant D'Hubert was no lon- 
ger offider d'ordonnance to the general com- 
manding the division. He had been sent back to 
his regiment. And he was resuming his connec- 
tion with the soldiers' military family, by being 
shut up in close confinement not at his own quar- 
ters in town, but in a room in the barracks. Ow- 
ing to the gravity of tlie incident, he was aUowed 
to see no one. He did not know what had hap- 
pened, what nas being said or what was being 
thought. The arrival of the surgeon was a most 
unexpected event to the worried captive. The 
amateur of the flute began by explaining that 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
he was there only by a special favour of the 
colonel who had thought fit to relax the general 
isolation order for this one occasion. 

" I represented to him that it would be only 
fair to give you autlientic news of your adver- 
sary," he continued. " You'll be glad to hear 
he's getting better fast." 

Lieutenant D'Hubert's face exhibited no con- 
ventional signs of gladness. He continued to 
walk the floor of the dusty bare room. 

" Take this chair, doctor," he mumbled. 

The doctor sat down. 

" This affair is variously appreciated — ki town 
and in the army. In fact the diversity of opinions 
is amusing." 

"Is it?" mumbled Lieutenant D'Hubert, 
tramping steadily from wall to wall. But within 
himself he marvelled that there could be two 
opinions on the matter. The surgeon continued : 

" Of course as the real facts are not known — " 

" I should have thought," interrupted D'Hu- 
bert, " that the fellow would have put you in 
possession of the facts." 




THE POINT OF HONOR 

" He did say something," admitted the other, 
"the first time I saw him. And, by-the-bye, I 
did find him in the garden. The thump on the 
back of his head had made him a little incoherent 
then. Aftenvards he was rather reticent than 
otherwise." 

" Didn't think he would have the grace to be 
ashamed," grunted D'Hubert, who had stood 
still for a moment. He resumed his pacing while 
the doctor murmured. 

" It's verj' amusing. Ashamed? Shame was 
not exactly his frame of mind. However, you 
may look at the matter otherwise " 

" What are you talking about ? What mat- 
ter?" asked D'Hubert with a sidelong look at 
the hea\'y-faced, gray-haired figure seated on a 
wooden chair. 

" Wliatever it is," said the surgeon, " I 
wouldn't pronounce an opinion on your con- 
duct. . . ." 

" By heavens, you had better not," burst out 
D'Hubert. 

" There! There! Don't be so quick in flourish- 
[48] 



THE POINT OF HONOB. 
ing" the sword. It doesn't pay in the long run." 
Understand once for all that I would not carve 
any of you youngsters except with the tools of 
my trade. But my advice is good. Moderate your 
temper. If you go on like this you will make for 
yourself an ugly reputation." 

"Go on like what?" demanded Lieutenant 
D'Hubert, stopping short, quite startled. "I! I! 
make for myself a reputation. . . . What do 
you imagine " 

" I told you I don't wish to judge of the rights 
and wrongs of this incident. It's not my business. 
Nevertheless. . . ." 

"AVhat on earth has he been telling you?" 
interrupted Lieutenant D'Hubert in a sort of 
awed scare. 

" I told you already that at first when I picked 
him up in the garden he was incoherent. After- 
wards he was naturally reticent. But I gather at 
least that he could not help himself. . . ." 

"He couldn't?" shouted Lieutenant D'Hu- 
bert, Then lowering his voice, "And what about 
me? Could I help myself? " 

[M] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
The surgeon rose. His thoughts were running 
upon the flute, his constant companion, with a 
consoling voice. In the vicinity of field ambu- 
lances, after twenty-four hours' hard work, he had 
been known to trouhle with its sweet sounds the 
horrible stillness of battlefields given over to 
silence and the dead. The solacing hour of his 
daily life was approaching and in peace time he 
held on to the minutes as a miser to his hoard. 

" Of course! Of coursel " he said perfunctorily. 
*' You would think so. It's amusing. However, 
being perfectly neutral and friendly to you both, 
I have consented to deliver his message. Say 
that I am humouring an invalid if you Uke. 
He says that this afl'air is by no means at an end. 
He intends to send you his seconds directly he 
has regained his strength — providing, of course, 
the army is not in the field at that time." 

"He intends — does he? ^Vhy certainly," 
spluttered Lieutenant D'Hubert passionately. 
The secret of this exasperation was not apparent 
to the visitor; but this passion confirmed him in 
the belief which was gaining ground outside that 

[45] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
some very serious difference had arisen between 
these two young men. Something serious enough 
to wear an air of mystery. Some fact of the 
utmost gravity. To settle their urgent differ- 
ence those two young men had risked being 
broken and disgraced at the outset, ahnost, of 
their career. And he feared that the forthcom- 
ing inquiry would fail to satisfy the public curi- 
osity. They would not take the public into their 
confidence as to that something which had passed 
between them of a nature so outrageous as to 
make them face a charge of murder — neither 
more nor less. But what could it be? 

The surgeon was not very curious by tempera- 
ment; but that question, haunting his mind, 
caused him twice that evening to hold the instru- 
ment off his lips and sit silent for a whole minute 
— ^right in the middle of a tune — trying to form 
a plausible conjecture. 



[46] 



II 



HE succeeded in this object no better than 
the rest of the garrison and the whole of 
society. The two young officers, of no 
especial consequence till then, became distin- 
guished by the universal curiosity as to the origin 
of their quarrel. Madame de Lionne's salon was 
the centre of ingenious surmises; that lady her- 
self was for a time assailed with inquiries as 
the last person known to have spoken to these 
unhappy and reckless young men before they 
went out together from her house to a savage 
encounter with swords, at dusk, in a private 
garden. She protested slie had noticed nothing 
unusual hi their demeanour. Lieutenant Feraud 
had been visibly annoyed at being called away. 
That was natural enough; no man likes to be dis- 
turbed in a conversation with a lady famed for 
her elegance and sensibility. But, in trutli, the 

[47] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
subject bored Madame de Lionne since her per- 
sonality could by no stretch of imagination be 
connected with this affair. And it irritated her to 
hear it advanced that there might have been some 
woman in the case. This irritation arose, not from 
her elegance or sensibility, but from a more in- 
stinctive side of her natiu-e. It became so great at 
last that she peremptorily forbade the subject to 
be mentioned under her roof. Near her couch the 
prohibition was obeyed, but farther off in the 
salon the pall of the imposed silence continued to 
be lifted more or less. A diplomatic personage 
with a long pale face resembling the countenance 
of a sheep, opined, shaking his head, that it was a 
quarrel of long standing envenomed by time. It 
was objected to him that the men themselves 
were too j'oung for such a theory to fit tiieir 
proceedings. They belonged also to different 
and distant parts of France. A subcommissary 
of the Intendence, an agreeable and cultivated 
bachelor in keysermere breeches, Hessian boots 
and a blue coat embroidered with silver lace, 
who affected to beheve in the transmigration 

[48] 



• 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
of souls, suggested that the two had met per- 
haps in some previous existence. The feud was 
in the forgotten past. It might have been some- 
thing quite inconceivable in the present state of 
their being; but their souls remembered the ani- 
mosity and manifested an instinctive antagonism. 
He developed his theme jocularly. Yet the affair 
was so absurd from the worldly, the military, the 
honourable, or the prudential point of view, that 
this weird explanation seemed rather more rea- 
sonable than any other. 

The two officers had confided nothing definite 
to any one. Resentment, humiliation at having 
been worsted arms in hand, and an imeasy feeling 
of having been involved into a scrape by the in- 
justice of fate, kept Lieutenant Feraud savagely 
dumb. He mistrusted the sympatliy of mankind. 
That would of course go to that dandified staff 
officer. Lying in bed he raved to himself in his 
mind or aloud to the pretty maid who ministered 
to his needs with devotion and Ustened to his hor- 
rible imprecations with alarm. That Lieutenant 
D'Hubert should be made to " pay for it," what- 

[49] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
ever it was, seemed to her just and natural. Her 
principal concern was that Lieutenant Feraud 
should not excite himself. He appeared so wholly 
admirable and fascinating to the himiiUty of her 
heart that her only concern was to see him get 
well quickly even if it were only to resume his 
visits to JSIadame de Lionne's salon. 

Lieutenant D'Hubert kept silent for the im- 
mediate reason that there was no one except a 
stupid young soldier servant to speak to. But he 
was not anxious for the opportunities of which 
his severe arrest deprived him. He would have 
heen uncommunicative from dread of ridicule. 
He was aware that the episode, so grave pro- 
fessionally, had its comic side. When reflecting 
upon it he still felt that he would like to wring 
Lieutenant Feraud's neck for him. But this for- 
mula was figurative rather than precise, and ex- 
pressed more a state of mind than an actual 
physical impulse. At the same time there was in 
that young man a feeling of comradeship and 
kindness which made him unwilUng to make the 
position of Lieutenant Feraud worse than it was. 

[80] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
He did not want to talk at large about this 
wretched affair. At the inquiry he would have, of 
course, to speak the truth in self-defence. This 
prospect vexed him. 

But no inquiry took place. The army took the 
field instead. Lieutenant D'Huhert, liberated 
without remark, returned to his regimental du- 
ties, and Lieutenant Feraud, his arm still in a 
sling, rode imquestioned with his squadron to 
complete his convalescence in the smoke of battle- 
fields and the fresh air of night bivouacs. This 
bracing treatment suited his case so well that at 
the first rumour of an armistice being signed he 
could turn without misgivings to the prosecution 
of his private warfare. 

This time it was to be regular warfare. He 
dispatched two friends to Lieutenant D'Huhert, 
whose regiment was stationed only a few miles 
away. Those friends had asked no questions of 
their principal. " I must pay him off, that pretty 
staflF officer," he had said grimly, and they went 
away quite contentedly on their mission. Lieuten- 
ant D'Huhert had no difficulty in finding two 

[51] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
friends equally discreet and devoted to their prin- 
cipal. " There's a sort of crazy fellow to whom 
I must give another lesson," he had curtly de- 
clared, and they asked for no better reasons. 

On these grounds an encounter with duelling 
swords was arranged one early morning in a 
convenient field. At the third set-to, Lieutenant 
D'Hubert found himself lying on his back on 
the dewy grass, with a hole in his side. A serene 
sun, rising over a German landscape of meadows 
and wooded hills, hung on his left. A surgeon — 
not tlie flute-player but another- — was bending 
over him, feeling around the wound. 

" Karrow squeak. But it will he nothing," 
he pronounced. 

Lieutenant D'Hubert heard these words with 
pleasure. One of his seconds — the one who, sit- 
ting on the wet grass, was sustaining his head 
on his lap — said: 

" The forirme of war, mon pauvre vieusc. 
What will you have? You had better make it 
up, like two good fellows. Do! " 

" You don't know what you ask," murmured 
[53] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
Lieutenant D'Hubert in a feeble voice. " How- 
ever, if he . . ." 

In another part of the meadow the seconds 
of Lieutenant Feraud were urging him to go 
over and shake hands with his adversary. 

" You have paid him off now— g-ue diable. 
It's the proper thing to do. This D'Hubert is a 
decent fellow." 

" I know the decency of these generals' 
pets," muttered Lieutenant Feraud through 
his teeth for all answer. The sombre expres- 
sion of his face discouraged further efforts at 
reconcihation. The seconds, bowing from a dis- 
tance, took their men off the field. In the af- 
ternoon, Lieutenant D'Hubert, very popular 
as a good comrade imiting great bravery with 
a frank and equable temper, had many visitors. 
It was remarked that Lieutenant Feraud did 
not, as customary, show himself much abroad 
to receive the fehcitations of his friends. They 
would not have failed him, because he, too, was 
liked for the exuberance of his southern na- 
ture and the simphcity of his character. In all 

[53] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

the places where officers were in the habit of 
assembling at the end of tlie day the duel of the 
morning was talked over from every point of 
view. Though Lieutenant D'Hubert had got 
worsted this time, his sword-play was com- 
mended. No one could deny that it was very 
close, very scientific. If be got touched, some said, 
it wa.s because he wished to spare bis adversary. 
But by many the vigour and dash of Lieutenant 
Feraud's attack were pronounced irresistible. 

The merits of the two officers as combatants 
were frankly disaissed; but their attitude to 
each other after the duel was criticised lightly 
and with caution. It was irreconcilable, and 
that was to be regretted. After aU, they knew 
best what the care of their honour dictated. It 
was not a matter for their comrades to pry into 
overmuch. As to the origin of the quarrel, the 
general impression was tliat it dated from the 
time they were holding garrison in Strasburg. 
Only the musical surgeon shook his bead at 
that. It went much farther back, he hinted dis- 
creetly. 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
Why! You must know the whole story," 
cried several voices, eager with curiosity. " You 
were there! What was it? " 

He raised his eyes from his glass deliberately 
and said: 

" Even if I knew ever so well, you can't ex- 
pect me to tell you, since both the principals 
choose to say nothing." 

He got up and went out, leaving the sense of 
mystery behind him. He could not stay longer 
because the witching hour of flute-playing was 
dravping near. After he had gone a very young 
officer observed solemnly: 

" Obviouslj' ! His lips are sealed." 

Nobody questioned the high propriety of that 
remark. Somehow it added to the impressiveness 
of the affair. Several older officers of both regi- 
ments, prompted by nothing but sheer kindness 
and love of harmony, proposed to form a Court 
of Honour to which the two officers would leave 
the task of their reconcihation. Unfortunately, 
they began by approaching Lieutenant Feraud. 
The assumption was, that having just scored 

[65] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

heavily, he would be found placable and disposed 
to moderation. 

The reasoning was sound enough; neverthe- 
less, the move turned out unfortunate. In that 
relaxation of moral fibre which is brought about 
by the ease of soothed vanity. Lieutenant Feraud 
had condescended in the secret of his heart to 
review the case, and even to doubt not the justice 
of his cause, but the absolute sagacity of his 
conduct. This being so, he was disinclined to talk 
about it. The suggestion of the regimental wise 
men put him in a difficult position. He was dis- 
gusted, and this disgust by a sort of paradoxical 
logic reawakened his animosity against Lieuten- 
ant D'Hubert. Was he to be pestered with this 
fellow for ever — the fellow who had an infernal 
knack of getting round people somehow? On the 
other hand, it was difficult to refuse point-blank 
that sort of mediation sanctioned by the code of 
honour. 

Lieutenant Feraud met the difficulty by an at- 
titude of fierce reserve. He twisted his moustache 
and used vague words. His case was perfectly 

[66] 



THE POINT OF HONOK 
clear. He was not asliamed to present it, neither 
was he afraid to defend it personally. He did not 
see any reason to jump at the suggestion hefore 
ascertaining how his adversary was likely to 
take it. 

Later in the day, his exasperation growing 
upon him, he was heard in a public place say- 
ing sardonically " that it would be the very lucki- 
est thing for Lieutenant D'Hubert, since next 
time of meeting he need not hope to get off 
with a mere trifle of three weeks in bed." 

This boastful phrase might have been prompt- 
ed by the most profound Machiavelism. South- 
ern natures often hide under the outward im- 
pulsiveness of action and speech a certain amount 
of astuteness. 

Lieutenant Feraud, mistrusting the justice of 
men, by no means desired a Court of Honour. 
And these words, according so well with his 
temperament, had also the merit of serving his 
turn. Whether meant for that purpose or not, 
they found their way in less than four-and- 
twenty hours into Lieutenant D'Hubert's bed- 

[57] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
room. In consequence, Lieutenant D'Hubert, 
sitting- propped up with pillows, received the 
overtures made to him next day by the state- 
ment that the affair was of a nature which could 
not bear discussion. 

The pale face of the wounded officer, his 
weak voice which he had yet to use cautiously, 
and the courteous dignity of his tone, had a 
great effect on his hearers. Reported outside, 
all this did more for deepening tlie mystery 
than the vapourings of Lieutenant Feraud. This 
last was greatly relieved at the issue. He began 
to enjoy the state of general wonder, and was 
pleased to add to it by assuming an attitude of 
moody reserve. 
v. The colonel of Lieutenant D'Hubert's regi- 
ment was a gray-haired, weather-beaten warrior 
who took a simple view of his responsibilities. 
" I can't "—he thought to himself—" let the best 
of my subalterns get damaged like this for noth- 
ing. I must get to the bottom of this affair pri- 
vately. He must speak out, if the devil were in 
it. The colonel should be more than a father 

[58] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 



to these youngsters." And, indeed, he loved all 
his men with as much affection as a father of 
a large family can feel for every individual 
member of it. If human beings by an oversight 
of Providence came into the world in the state 
of civilians, they were bom again into a regi- 
ment as infants are bom into a family, and it was 
that military birth alone which really counted. 

At the sight of Lieutenant D'Hubert stand- 
ing before him bleaclied and hollow-eyed, the 
heart of the old warrior was touched with 
genuine compassion. All his affection for the 
regiment — that body of men which he held in his 
band to launch forward and draw back, who had 
given him his rank, ministered to his pride and 
commanded his thoughts— seemed centred for a 
moment on the person of tlie most promising 
subaltern. He cleared his throat in a threatening 
manner and frowned terribly. 

" You must understand," he began, " that I 
don't care a rap for the life of a single man in 
the regiment. You know that I would send the 
748 of you men and horses galloping into the pit 

[59] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
of perdition with no more compunction than I 
would kill a fly." 

" Yes, colonel. You would be riding at our 
head," said Lieutenant D'Hubert with a wan 
smile. 

The colonel, who felt the need of being very 
diplomatic, fairly roared at this. 

" I want you to know. Lieutenant D'Hubert, 
that I could stand aside and see you all riding 
to Hades, if need be. I am a man to do even 
that, if the good of the service and my duty to 
my coimtry required it from me. But that's un- 
thinkable, so don't you even hint at such a thing." 

He glared awfully, but his voice became gen- 
tle. " There's some milk yet about that moustache 
of yours, my boy. You don't know what a man 
like me is capable of. I would hide behind a hay- 
stack if . . . Don't grin at me, sir. How dare you? 
If this were not a private conversation, 1 would 
. . . Look here. I am responsible for the proper 
expenditure of lives under my command for the 
glory of our coimtry and the honour of the regi- 
ment. Do you understand that? Well, then, what 

[60] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 



the devil do you mean bj' letting yourself be 
spitted like this by that fellow of the Seventh 
Hussars? It's simply disgraceful! " 

Lieutenant D'Hubert, who expected another 
sort of conclusion, felt vexed beyond measm-e. 
His shoulders moved slightly. He made no 
other answer. He could not ignore his responsi- 
bility. The colonel softened his glance and low- 
ered his voice. 

" It's deplorable," he murmured. And again 
he changed his tone. " Come," he went on 
persuasively, but with that note of authority 
which dwells in the throat of a good leader of 
men, " this affair must be settled. I desire to be 
told plainly what it is all about. I demand, as 
your best friend, to know." 

The compelling power of authority, the soft- 
ening influence of the kindness affected deeply 
a man just risen from a bed of sickness. Lieu- 
tenant D'Hubert's hand, which grasped the 
knob of a stick, trembled slightly. But his north- 
em temperament, sentimental but cautious and 
clear-sighted, too, in its idealistic way, predom- 

[61] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

inated over his impulse to make a clean breast 
of the whole deadly absurdity. According to the 
precept of transcendental wisdom, he tmned his 
tongue seven times in his raouth before he spoke. 
He made then only a speech of thanks, nothing 
more. The colonel listened interested at first, then 
looked mystified. At last he frowned. 

" You hesitate — mille tonerres! Haven't I told 
you that I will condescend to argue with you — 
as a friend? " 

" Yes, colonel," answered Lieutenant D'Hu- 
bert softly, " but I am afraid that after you have 
heard me out as a friend, you will take action 
as my superior officer." 

The attentive colonel snapped his jaws. 

" WeU, what of that?" he said frankly. "Is 
it so damnably disgraceful?" 

" It is not," negatived Lieutenant D'Hubert 
in a faint but resolute voice. 

" Of course I shall act for the good of the 
service — nothing can prevent me doing that. 
What do you think I want to be told for?" 

" I know it is not from idle curiosity," pro- 
[68] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
tested Lieutenant D'Hubert. " I know you will 
act wisely. But what about the good fame of the 
regiment? " 

" It cannot be affected by any youthful folly 
of a lieutenant," the colonel said severely. 

" No, it cannot be ; but it can be by evil 
tongues. It will be said that a lieutenant of the 
Fourth Hussars, afraid of meeting his adversary, 
is hiding behind his colonel. And that would be 
worse than hiding behind a haystack — for the 
good of the service. I cannot afford to do that, 
colonel." 

" Nobody would dare to say anything of the 
kind," the colonel, beginning very fiercely, 
ended on an uncertain note. The bravery of 
Lieutenant D'Hubert was well known; but the 
colonel was well aware that the duelling courage, 
the single combat courage, is, rightly or wrongly, 
supposed to be courage of a special sort; and it 
was eminently necessary that an officer of his 
regiment should possess every kind of courage— 
and prove it, too. The colonel stuck out his lower 
lip and looked far away with a peculiar glazed 

[63] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

stare. This was the expi-ession of his perplexity, 
an expression practically unknown to his regi- 
ment, for perplexity is a sentiment which is in- 
compatible with the rank of colonel of cavalry. 
The colonel himself was overcome hy the un- 
pleasant novelty of the sensation. As he was 
not accustomed to think except on professional 
matters connected with the welfare of men and 
horses and the proper use thereof on the field of 
glory, his intellectual efforts degenerated into 
mere mental repetitions of profane language. 
" Mille tonerresi . . . SoctS nom de nom . . ." 
he tliought. 

Lieutenant D'Huhert coughed painfully and 
went on, in a weary voice : 

" There wiU he plenty of evil tongues to say 
that I've heen cowed. And I am sure you will 
not expect me to pass that sort of thing over. I 
may find myself suddenly with a dozen duels on 
my hands instead of this one affair." 

The direct simpUeity of this argument came 
home to the colonel's understanding. He looked 
at his subordinate fixedly. 

[64] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
Sit down, lieutenant," he said gruffly. " This 
is the very devil of a ... sit down." 

" Mon colonel" D'Hubert began again. " I 
am not afraid of evil tongues. There's a way of 
silencing them. But there's my peace of mind too. 
I wouldn't be able to shake off the notion that 
I've ruined a brother officer. Whatever action you 
take it is bound to go further. The inquiry has 
been dropped — let it rest now. It would have 
been the end of Feraud." 

" Hey? What? Did he behave so badly? " 

" Yes, it was pretty bad," muttered Lieuten- 
ant D'Hubert. Being still very weak, he felt a 
disposition to cry. 

As the other man did not belong to his own 
regiment the colonel had no difficulty in behev- 
ing this. He began to pace up and down the 
room. He was a good chief and a man capable 
of discreet sympathy. But he was human in other 
ways, too, and they were apparent because he 
was not capable of artifice. 

" The very devil, lieutenant I " he blurted out 
in the innocence of his heart, '* is that I have de- 

[65] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
clared my intention to get to the bottom of this 
affair. And when a colonel says something . . . 
you see ..." 

Lieutenant D'Hubert broke in earnestly. 

" Let me entreat you, colonel, to be satisfied 
with taking my word of honour that I was put 
into a damnable position where I had no option. 
I had no choice whatever consistent with my 
dignity as a man and an officer, . . . After all, 
colonel, this fact is the very bottom of this af- 
fair. Here you've got it. The rest is a mere 
detail. . . ." 

The colonel stopped short. The reputation of 
Lieutenant D'Hubert for good sense and good 
temper weighed in the balance. A cool head, 
a warm heart, open as the day. Always cor- 
rect in his behaviour. One had to trust him. 
The colonel repressed manfully an immense 
curiosity. 

"H'm! You affirm that as a man and an 
officer. ... No option? Eh?" 

" As an officer, an officer of the Fourth Hus- 
sars, too," repeated Lieutenant D'Hubert, " I 

[66] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
had not. And that is the bottom of the aifair, 
colonel." 

" Yes. But still I don't see why to one's colo- 
nel ... A colonel is a father — que diable." 

Lieutenant D'Hubert ought not to have been 
allowed out as yet. He was becoming aware of 
his physical insufficiency with humiliation and 
despair — but the morbid obstinacy of an invalid 
possessed him — and at the same time he felt, with 
dismay, his eyes filling with water. This trouble 
seemed too big to handle. A tear fell down the 
thin, pale cheek of Lieutenant D'Hubert. The 
colonel turned his back on him hastily. You could 
have heard a pin drop. 

" This is some silly woman story — is it not? " 

The chief spun round to seize the truth, which 
is not a beautiful shape living in a well but a 
shy bird best caught by stratagem. This was the 
last move of the colonel's diplomacy, and he saw 
the truth shining unmistakably in the gesture of 
Ijieutenant D'Hubert, raising his weak arms and 
his eyes to heaven in supreme protest. 

"Not a woman affair— eh?" growled the 
[67] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
colonel, staring hard. " I don't ask you who or 
where. All I want to know is whether there is 
a woman in it?" 

Lieutenant D'Hubert's arms dropped and his 
weak voice was pathetically broken. 

" Nothing of the kind, mon colonel." 

" On your honour? " insisted the old warrior. 

" On my honour." 

" Very well," said the colonel thouglitfully, 
and bit his lip. The arguments of Lieutenant 
D'Hubert, helped by his liking for the person, 
had convinced him. Yet it was highly improper 
that his intervention, of which he had made no 
secret, should produce no visible effect. He kept 
Lieutenant D'Hubert a little longer and dis- 
missed him kindly. 

" Take a few days more in bed, lieutenant. 
What the devil does the surgeon mean by re- 
porting you fit for duty? " 

On coming out of the colonel's quarters. Lieu- 
tenant D'Hubert said nothing to the friend who 
was waiting outside to take him home. He said 
nothing to anybody. Lieutenant D'Hubert made 

[68] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
no confidences. But in the evening of that day 
the colonel, strolling under the elms growing 
near his quarters in the company of his second 
in command opened his lips. 

" I've got to the bottom of this affair," he re- 
marked. 

The lieutenant-colonel, a dry hrown chip of a 
man with short side-whiskers, pricked up his ears 
without letting a sound of curiosity escape him. 

'* It's no trifle," added the colonel oracularly. 
The other waited for a long while before he 
murmured : 

" Indeed, sir! " 

" No trifle," repeated the colonel, looking 
straight before him. " I've, however, forbidden 
D'Hubert either to send to or receive a challenge 
from Feraud for the next twelve months." 

He had imagined this prohibition to save the 
prestige a colonel should have. The result of it 
was to give an official seal to the mystery sur- 
rounding this deadly quarrel. Lieutenant D'Hu- 
bert repelled by an impassive silence all attempts 
to worm the truth out of him. Lieutenant Fe- 

[69] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

raud, secretly uneasy at first, regained his assur- 
ance as time went on. He disguised his ignorance 
of the meaning of the imposed truce by little 
sardonic laughs as though he were amused by 
what he intended to keep to himself. " But what 
will you do? " his chums used to ask him. He 
contented himself by replying, " Qui vivra verra" 
with a truculent air. And everybody admired 
his discretion. 

Before the end of the truce. Lieutenant D'Hu- 
bert got his promotion. It was well earned, but 
somehow no one seemed to expect the event. 
When Lieutenant Feraud heard of it at a gath- 
ering of officers, he muttered through his teeth, 
" Is that so? " Unhooking his sword from a peg 
near the door, he buckled it on carefully and left 
the company without another word. He walked 
home with measured steps, struck a light with 
his flint and steel, and lit his tallow candle. Then, 
snatching an unlucky glass tumbler off the man- 
telpiece, he dashed it violently on the floor. 

Now that D'Hubert was an officer of a rank 
superior to his own, there could be no question 

[70] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
of a duel. Neither could send nor receive a 
challenge without rendering himself amenable 
to a court-martial. It was not to be thought 
of. Lieutenant Feraud, who for many days 
now had experienced no real desire to meet 
Lieutenant D'Hubert arms in hand, chafed at 
the systematic injustice of fate. " Does he think 
he will escape me in that way?" he thought 
indignantly. He saw in it an intrigue, a con- 
spiracy, a cowardly manoeuvre. That colonel 
knew what he was doing. He had hastened to 
recommend his pet for promotion. It was outra- 
geous that a man should be able to avoid the con- 
sequences of his acts in such a dark and tortuous 
manner. 

Of a happy-go-lucky disposition, of a temper- 
ament more pugnacious than military. Lieuten- 
ant Feraud had been content to give and receive 
blows for sheer love of armed strife and without 
much thought of advancement. But after this 
disgusting experience an urgent desire of pro- 
motion sprang up in liis breast. This fighter 
by vocation resolved in Iiis mind to seize showy 

[71] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

occasions and to court the favourable opinion 
of his chiefs like a mere worldling. He knew 
he was as brave as any one and never doubted 
his personal charm. It would be easy, he thought. 
Nevertheless, neither the bravery nor the charm 
seemed to work very swiftly. Lieutenant Fe- 
raud's engaging, careless truculence of a " beau 
sabreur " underwent a change. He began to 
make bitter allusions to " clever fellows who 
stick at nothing to get on." The army was 
full of them, he would say, you had only to 
look roimd. And all the time he had in view 
one person only, his adversary D'Hubert. Once 
he confided to an appreciative friend : " You 
see I don't know how to fawn on the right sort 
of people. It isn't in me." 

He did not get his step till a week after Aus- 
terlitz. The light cavalry of the Grande Armce 
had its hands very full of interesting work for 
a little while. But directly the pressure of pro- 
fessional occupation had been eased by the armis- 
tice. Captain Feraud took measures to arrange 
a meeting without loss of time. " I know his 

[72] 




THE POINT OF HONGH 
tricks," he observed grimly. " If I don't look 
sharp he will take care to get himself promoted 
over the heads of a dozen better men than him- 
self. He's got the knack of that sort of thing." 
This duel was fought in Silesia. If not fought 
out to a finish, it was at any rate fought to a 
standstill. The weapon was the cavalry sabre, 
and the skill, the science, the vigour, and the 
determination displayed by the adversaries com- 
pelled the outspoken admiration of the behold- 
ers. It became the subject of talk on both shores 
of the Danube, and as far south as the garrisons 
of Gratz and Laybach. They crossed blades seven 
times. Both had many slight cuts— mere scratches 
which bled profusely. Both refused to have the 
combat stopped, time after time, with what ap- 
peared the most deadly animosity. This appear- 
ance was caused on the part of Captain D'Hu- 
bert by a rational desire to be done once for all 
with this worry; on the part of Feraud by a tre- 
mendous exaltation of his pugnacious instincts 
and the rage of wounded vanity. At last, dishev- 
elled, their shirts in rags, covered with gore 

[73] 





THE POINT OF HONOR 
and hardly able to stand, they were carried forci- 
bly off the field by their marvelling and horrified 
seconds. Later on, besieged by comrades avid of 
details, these gentlemen declared that they could 
not have allowed that sort of hacking to go on. 
Asked whether the quarrel was settled this time, 
they gave it out as their conviction that it was 
a difference which could only be settled by one 
of tlie parties remaining lifeless on the ground. 
The sensation spread from army to army corps, 
and penetrated at last to the smallest detach- 
ments of the troops cantoned between the Rhine 
and the Save. In the cafes in Vienna where 
the masters of Europe took their ease it was 
generally estimated from details to hand that the 
adversaries would be able to meet again in three 
weeks' time, on the outside. Sometljing really 
transcendental in the way of duelling was ex- 
pected. 

These expectations were brought to naught by 
the necessities of the service which separated the 
two ofiicers. No official notice had been taken 
of their quarrel. It was now the property of the 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
army, and not to be meddled with lightly. But 
the story of the duel, or rather their duelling 
propensities, must have stood somewhat in the 
way of their advancement, because they were still 
captains when they came together again during 
the war with Prussia, Detaclied north after Jena 
with the army commanded by Slarshal Berna- 
dotte. Prince of Ponte-Corvo, they entered Lu- 
beck together. It was only after the occupation 
of that town that Captain Feraud had leisure to 
consider his future conduct in view of the fact 
that Captain D'Hubert had been given the posi- 
tion of third aide-de-camp to the marshal. He 
considered it a great part of a night, and in the 
morning sunmioned two sjinpathetic friends. 

" I've been thinking it over calmly," he said, 
gazing at them with bloodshot, tired eyes. " I 
see that I must get rid of that intriguing per- 
sonage. Here he's managed to sneak onto the 
personal staff of the marshal. It's a direct provo- 
cation to me. I can't tolerate a situation in which 
I am exposed any day to receive an order through 
him, and God knows what order, too! That sort 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
of thing has happened once before — and that's 
once too often. He understands this perfectly, 
never fear. I can't tell you more than this. Now 
go. You know what it is you have to do." 

This encounter took place outside the town of 
Luheck, on very open ground selected with spe- 
cial care in deference to the general sense of 
the cavalry division belonging to the army corps, 
that this time the two officers should meet on 
horseback. After all, this duel was a cavalry af- 
fair, and to persist in fighting on foot would look 
like a slight on one's own arm of the service. 
The seconds, startled by the unusual nature of 
the suggestion, hastened to refer to their prin- 
cipals. Captain Feraud jumped at it witli savage 
alacrity. For some obscure reason, depending, 
no doubt, on his psychology, he imagined him- 
self invincible on horseback. All alone within the 
four walls of his room he rubbed his hands exult- 
ingly. "Ahal my staff officer, I've got you 
now!" 

Captain D'Hubert, on his side, after staring 
hard for a considerable time at his bothered sec- 

[76] 



THE POINT Oi-' HONOR 
onds, shrugged his shoulders slightly. This affair 
had hopelessly and unreasonably complicated his 
existence for him. One absurdity more or less in 
the development did not matter. All absurdity 
was distasteful to him; but, urbane as ever, he 
produced a faintly ironic smile and said in his 
calm voice : 

" It certainly will do away to some extent with 
the monotony of the thing." 

But, left to himself, he sat down at a table and 
took his head into his hands. He had not spared 
himself of late, and the marshal had been work- 
ing his aides-de-camp particularly hard. The last 
three weeks of campaigning in horrible weather 
had affected his health. When overtired he suf- 
fered from a stitcli in his wounded side, and that 
uncomfortable sensation always depressed him. 
" It's that brute's doing," he thought bitterly. 

The day before he had received a letter from 
home, aimouncing that his only sister was going 
to be married. He reflected that from the time she 
was sixteen, when he went away to garrison life 
in Strasburg, he had had but two short glimpses 

[77] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

of her. They had been great friends and con- 
fidants; and now they were going to give her 
away to a man whom he did not know — a very 
worthy fellow, no doubt, but not half good 
enough for her. He would never see his old 
Leonie again. She had a capable Uttle head and 
plenty of tact; she would know how to manage 
the fellow, to be sure. He was easy about her hap- 
piness, but he felt ousted from the first place in 
her affection which had been his ever since the 
girl could speak. And a melancholy regret of 
the days of his childhood settled upon Captain 
D'Hubert, third aide-de-camp to the Prince of 
Ponte-Corvo. 

He pushed aside the letter of congratulation 
he had begun to write, as in duty bound but 
without pleasure. He took a fresh sheet of paper 
and wrote: " This is my last will and testament." 
And, looking at these words, he gave himself 
up to unpleasant reflection; a presentiment that 
he would never see the scenes of his childhood 
overcame Captain D'Hubert. He jumped up, 
pushing his chair back, yawned leisurely, which 

[78] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
demonstrated to himself that he didn't care any- 
thing for presentiments, and, throwing himself 
on the hed, went to sleep. During the night he 
shivered from time to time without waking up. 
In the morning he rode out of town between his 
two seconds, talking of indiflferent things and 
looking right and left with apparent detachment 
into the heavy morning mists, shrouding the flat 
green fields bordered by hedges. He leaped a 
ditch, and saw the forms of many mounted men 
moving in the low fog. " We are to fight before 
a gallery," he muttered bitterly. 

His seconds were rather concerned at the state 
of the atmosphere, but presently a pale and sym- 
pathetic sun struggled above the vapours. Cap- 
tain D'Hubert made out in the distance three 
horsemen riding a little apart; it was his ad- 
versary and his seconds. He drew his sabre and 
assured himself that it was properly fastened 
to his wrist. And now the seconds, who had 
been standing in a close group with the heads 
of their horses together, separated at an easy 
canter, leaving a large, clear field between him 

[79] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
and his adversary. Captain D'Hiibert looked at 
the pale sun, at the dismal landscape, and the im- 
beciUty of the impending fight filled him with 
desolation. From a distant part of the field a 
stentorian voice shouted commands at proper in- 
tervals: Au pas — Au trot—Ckargez! Presenti- 
ments of death don't come to a man for nothing 
he thought at the moment he put spurs to his 
horse. 

And therefore nobody was more surprised 
than himself when, at the very first set-to. Cap- 
tain Feraud laid himself open to a cut ex- 
tending over the forehead, blinding him with 
blood, and ending the combat almost before 
it had fairly begun. The surprise of Captain 
Feraud might have been even greater. Cap- 
tain D'Hubert, leaving him swearing horribly 
and reeling in the saddle between his two ap- 
palled friends, leaped the ditch again and trot- 
ted home with his two seconds, who seemed rather 
awestruck at the speedy issue of that encounter. 
In the evening, Captain D'Hubert finished the 
congratulatory letter on his sister's marriage. 

[80] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
He finished it late. It was a long letter. Captain 
D'Hubert gave reins to his fancy. He told his 
sister he would feel rather lonely after this great 
change in her life. But, he continued, " the day 
will come for me, too, to get married. In fact, I 
am thinking already of the time when there will 
be no one left to fight in Europe, and the epoch 
of wars will be over. I shall expect then to be 
within measurable distance of a marshal's baton 
and you will be an experienced married woman. 
You shall look out a nice wife for me. I will be 
moderately bald by then, and a little blase; I wiU 
require a young girl — pretty, of course, and with 
a large fortune, you know, to help me close my 
glorious career with the splendour befitting my 
exalted rank." He ended with the information 
that he had just given a lesson to a worrying, 
quarrelsome fellow, who imagined he had a 
grievance against him. " But if you, in the depth 
of your province," he continued, " ever hear it 
said that your brother is of a quarrelsome dispo- 
sition, don't you believe it on any account. There 
is no saying what gossip from the army may 

[81] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
reach your innocent ears; whatever yon hear, 
you may assure our father that your ever loving 
brother is not a duellist." Then Captain D'Hu- 
bert crumpled up the sheet of paper with the 
words. " This is my last will and testament," 
and threw it in the fire with a great laugh at 
himself. He didn't care a snap for what that 
lunatic fellow could do. He had suddenly ac- 
quired the conviction that this man was utterly 
powerless tn affect his life in any sort of way, 
except, perhaps, in the way of putting a certain 
special excitement into the delightful gay inter- 
vals between the campaigns. 

From this on there were, however, to be no 
peaceful intervals in the career of Captain D'Hii- 
bert. He saw the fields of Eylau and Friedland, 
marched and countermarched in the snow, the 
mud, and the dust of Polish plains, picking up 
distinction and advancement on all the roads of 
northeastern Europe. Meantime, Captain Fe- 
raud, despatched southward with his regiment, 
made unsatisfactory war in Spain. It was only 
\vhen the preparations for the Russian campaign 

[82] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
began that he was ordered north again. He left 
the country of mantillas and oranges without 
regret. 

The first signs of a not unbecoming baldness 
added to the lofty aspect of Colonel D'Hubert's 
forehead. This featiu^ was no longer white and 
smooth as in the days of his youth, and the 
kindly open glance of his blue eyes had grown 
a little hard, as if from much peering through 
the smoke of battles. The ebony crop on Colonel 
Feraud's head, coarse and crinkly like a cap of 
horsehair, showed many silver threads about the 
temples. A detestable warfare of ambushes and 
inglorious surprises Iiad not improved his temper. 
The beaklike curve of his nose was unpleasantly 
set off by deep folds on each side of his mouth. 
The round orbits of his eyes radiated fine wrin- 
kles. More than ever he recalled an irritable and 
staring fowl — something like a cross between a 
parrot and an owl. He still manifested an out- 
spoken dislike for " intriguing fellows." He 
seized every opportunity to state that he did not 
pick up his rank in the anterooms of marshals. 

[83] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
The unlucky persons, civil or military, who, with 
an intention of being pleasant, begged Colonel 
Feraud to tell them how he came by that very ap- 
parent scar on the forehead, were astonished to 
find themselves snubbed in various ways, some 
of which were simply rude and others mysteri- 
ously sardonic. Young oflBcers were warned 
kindly by their more experienced comrades not 
to stare openly at tlie colonel's scar. But, indeed, 
an officer need have been very young in his pro- 
fession not to have heard the legendary tale of 
that duel originating in some mysterious, unfor- 
givable offence. 



[84] 



Ill 



THE retreat from Moscow submerged all 
private feelings in a sea of disaster 
and misery. Colonels without regiments, 
D'Hubert and Feraud carried the musket in the 
ranks of the sacred battahon — a battalion re- 
cruited from officers of all arms who had no 
longer any troops to lead. 

In that battalion promoted colonels did duty 
as sergeants; the generals captained the com- 
panies; a marshal of France, Prince of the Em- 
pire, commanded the whole. All had provided 
themselves with muskets picked up on the road, 
and cartridges taken from the dead. In the gen- 
eral destruction of the bonds of discipline and 
duty holding together the companies, the bat- 
talions, the regiments, the brigades and divisions 
of an armed host, this body of men put their 
.pride in preserving some semblance of order 

[86] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
and formation. The only stragglers were those 
who fell out to give up to the frost their 
exhausted sdbls. They plodded on doggedly, 
stumbling over the corpses of men, the carcasses 
of horses, the fragments of gun-carriages, cov- 
ered by the white winding-sheet of the great dis- 
aster. Their passage did not disturb the mortal 
silence of the plains, shining with a livid Ught 
under a sky the colour of ashes. Whirlwinds of 
snow ran along the fields, broke against the dark 
column, rose in a turmoil of flying icicles, and 
subsided, disclosing it creeping on without the 
swing and rhythm of the military pace. They 
struggled onward, exchanging neither words nor 
looks — whole ranks marched, touching elbows, 
day after day, and never raising their eyes, as if 
lost in despairing reflections. On calm days, in 
the diimb black forests of pines the cracking of 
overloaded branches was the only sound. Often 
from daybreak to dusk no one spoke in the whole 
column. It was like a macabre march of strug- 
gling corpses towards a distant grave. Only an 
alarm of Cossacks could restore to their lack- 

[86] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
lustre eyes a semblance of martial resolution. The 
battalion deployed, facing about, or formed 
square imder the endless fluttering of snowflakes. 
A cloud of horsemen with fur caps on their heads, 
levelled long lances and yelled " Hurrah! Hur- 
rah I " around their menacing immobility, whence, 
with muffled detonations, hundreds of dark-red 
flames darted through the air thick with falling 
snow. In a very few moments the horsemen 
would disappear, as if carried off yelling in the 
gale, and the battalion, standing still, alone in the 
blizzard, heard only the wind searching their very 
hearts. Then, with a cry or two of " Vive I'Em- 
pereurl " it would resume its march, leaving be- 
hind a few lifeless bodies lying huddled up, tiny 
dark specks on the white ground. 

Though often marching in the ranks or skir- 
mishing in the woods side by side, the two offi- 
cers ignored each other; this not so much from 
inimical intention as from a very real indiffer- 
ence. All their store of moral energy was ex- 
pended in resisting the terrific enmity of Nature 
and the crushing sense of irretrievable disaster. 

[87] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
Neither of them allowed himself to be crushed. 
To the last they comited among tlie most ac- 
tive, the least demoralised of the battalion; their 
vigorous vitality invested them both with the ap- 
pearance of an heroic pair in the eyes of their 
comrades. And they never exchanged more than 
a casual word or two, except one day when, skir- 
mishing in front of the battalion against a worry- 
ing attack of cavalry, they found themselves cut 
off by a small party of Cossacks. A score of wild- 
looking, hairy horsemen rode to and fro, bran- 
dishing their lances in ominous silence. The two 
officers had no mind to lay down their arms, and 
Colonel Feraud suddenly spoke up in a hoarse, 
growling voice, bringing his firelock to the shoul- 
der; 

" You take the nearest brute. Colonel D'Hu- 
bert; I'll settle the next one. I am a better shot 
than you are." 

Colonel D'Hubert only nodded over his 
levelled musket. Their shoulders were pressed 
against the trunk of a large tree; in front, deep 
snowdrifts protected them from a direct charge. 

[88] 




" Vfiu, take the nearent brute. Colonel D'Hubert " 



J 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
Two carefully aimed shots rang out in the frosty- 
air, two Cossacks i-eeled in their saddles. The 
rest, not thinking the game good enough, closed 
round their wounded comrades and galloped 
away out of range. The two officers managed 
to rejoin their battalion, halted for the night. 
During that afternoon they had leaned upon 
each other more than once, and towards the last 
Colonel D'Hubert, whose long legs gave him an 
advantage in walking through soft snow, per- 
emptorily took the musket from Colonel Feraud 
and carried it on his shoulder, using his own as 
a staff. 

On the outskirts of a village, half-buried 
in the snow, an old wooden barn burned with 
a clear and immense flame. The sacred bat- 
talion of skeletons muffled in rags crowded 
greedily the windward side, stretching hundreds 
of numbed, bony hands to the blaze. Nobody 
had noted their approach. Before entering the 
circle of light playing on the multitude of sunk- 
en, glassy-eyed, starved faces, Colonel D'Hubert 
spoke in his turn: 

[89] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
" Here's your firelock, Colonel Feraud. I can 
walk better than you." 

Colonel Feraud nodded, and pushed on to- 
wards the warmth of the fierce flames. Colonel 
D'Hubert was more deliberate, but not the less 
bent on getting a place in the front rank. Those 
they pushed aside tried to greet with a faint 
cheer the reappearance of the two indomitable 
companions in activity and endurance. Those 
manly (^uahties had never, perhaps, received 
a higher tribute than this feeble acclamation. 

This is the faithful record of speeches ex- 
changed during the retreat from Moscow by 
Colonels Feraud and D'Hubert. Colonel Fe- 
raud's taciturnity was the outcome of concen- 
trated rage. Short, hairy, black-faced with layers 
of grime, and a thick sprouting of a wiry beard, a 
frost-bitten hand, wrapped in filthy rags, carried 
in a slhig, he accused fate bitterly of unparalleled 
perfidy towards tlie sublime Man of Destiny. 
Colonel D'Hubert, his long moustache pendent 
in icicles on each side of his cracked blue lips, his 
eyelids inflamed with the glare of snows, the prin- 

[90] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
cipal part of his costume consisting of a sheep- 
skin coat looted with dlfficiilty from the frozen 
corpse of a camp follower found in an abandoned 
cart, took a more thouglitful view of events. His 
regularly handsome features now reduced to mere 
bony lines and fleshless hollows, looked out of 
a woman's black velvet hood, over which was 
rammed forcibly a cocked hat picked up under 
the wheels of an empty amiy fourgon whicli must 
have contained at one time some general officer's 
luggage. The sheepskin coat being short for a 
man of his inches, ended very high up his ele- 
gant person, and the skin of his legs, blue with 
the cold, showed through the tatters of his nether 
garments. This, under the circumstances, pro- 
voked neither jeers nor pity. No one cared how 
the next man felt or looked. Colonel D'Hubert 
himself hardened to exposure, suffered mainly in 
his self-respect from the lamentable indecency of 
his costume. A thoughtless person may think that 
with a whole host of inanimate bodies bestrew- 
ing the path of retreat there could not have been 
much diffiadty in supplying the deficiency. But 

[91] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
the great majority of these hodies lay buried 
under the falls of snow, others had been already 
despoiled ; and besides, to loot a pair of breeches 
from a frozen corpse is not so easy as it may 
appear to a mere theorist. It requires time. You 
must remain behind while your companions 
march on. And Colonel D'Hubert had his 
scruples as to falling out. They arose from a 
point of honour, and also a little from dread. 
Once he stepped aside he could not be sure of 
ever rejoining his battalion. And the enterprise 
demanded a physical effort from which his 
starved body shrank. The ghastly intimacy of a 
wrestling match with the frozen dead opposing 
the unyielding rigidity of iron to your violence 
was repugnant to the inborn delicacy of his feel- 
ings, j- 
Luckily, one day grubbing in a moimd of 
snow between the huts of a village in the hope 
of finding there a frozen potato or some vege- 
table garbage he could put between his long and 
shaky teeth, Colonel D'Hubert uncovered a cou- 
ple of mats of the sort Russian peasants use to 

[92] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
line the sides of their carts. These, shaken free 
of frozen snow, bent about his person and fas- 
tened solidly round his waist, made a bell-shaped 
nether garment, a sort of stiff petticoat, render- 
ing Colonel D'Hubert a perfectly decent but a 
much more noticeable figure than before. 

Thus accoutred he continued to retreat, never 
doubting of his personal escape but full of other 
misgivings. The early buoyancy of his belief in 
the future was destroyed. If the road of glory 
led through such unforeseen passages — he asked 
himself, for he was reflective, whether the guide 
was altogether trustworthy. And a patriotic sad- 
ness not mmiingled with some personal concern, 
altogether unlike the unreasoning indignation 
against men and things nursed by Colonel 
Feraud, oppressed the equable spirits of Colonel 
D'Hubert. Recruiting his strength in a httle 
German town for three weeks, he was surprised 
to discover within himself a love of repose. His 
returning vigour was strangely pacific in its as- 
pirations. He meditated silently upon that bi- 
zarre change of mood. No doubt many of his 

[93] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
brother officers of field rank had the same per- 
sonal experience. But these were not the times 
to talk of it. In one of his letters home Colonel 
D'Hubert wrote : " All your plans, my dear Le- 
onie, of marrying me to the charming girl you 
have discovered in your neighbourhood, seem 
farther off than ever. Peace is not yet. Europe 
wants another lesson. It will be a hard task for 
us, but it will he done well, because the emperor 
is invincible." 

Thus wrote Colonel D'Hubert from Pomerania 
to his married sister Leonie, settled in the south 
of France. And so far the sentiments expressed 
would not have been disowned by Colonel Fe- 
raud who wrote no letters to anybody; whose 
father had been in life an illiterate blacksmith; 
who had no sister or brother, and whom no one 
desired ardently to pair ofF for a life of peace 
with a charming young girl. But Colonel D'Hu- 
bert's letter contained also some philosophical 
generalities upon the uncertainty of all personal 
hopes if hound up entirely with the prestigious 
fortune of one incomparably great, it is true, yet 

[94] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
still remaining but a man in his greatness. This 
sentiment would have appeared rank heresy to 
Colonel Feraud. Some melancholy forebodings 
of a mihtary kind expressed cautiously would 
have been pronounced as nothing short of high 
treason by Colonel Feraud. But Leonie, the sis- 
ter of Colonel D'Hubert, read them with posi- 
tive satisfaction, and folding the letter thought- 
fully remarked to herself that " Armand was 
likely to prove eventually a sensible fellow."' 
Since her marriage into a Southern family she 
had become a convinced behever in the return of 
the legitimate king. Hopeful and anxious she 
offered prayers night and morning, and burned 
candles in churches for the safety and prosperity 
of her brother. 

She had every reason to suppose that her 
prayers were heard. Colonel D'Hubert passed 
through Lutzen, Bautzen, and Leipsic, losing 
no limbs and acquiring additional reputation. 
Adapting his conduct to the needs of that des- 
perate time, he had never voiced his misgivings. 
He concealed them mider a cheerful courtesy 

[95] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
of such pleasant character that people were" 
inclined to ask themselves with wonder whether 
Colonel D'Hubert was aware of any disasters. 
Not only his manners but even his glances 
remained untroubled. The steady amenity of 
his blue eyes disconcerted all grumblers, si- 
lenced doleful remarks, and made even despair 
pause. 

This bearing was remarked at last by the em- 
peror himself, for Colonel D'Hubert, attached 
now to the Major-General's staff, came on 
several occasions under the imperial eye. But 
it exasperated the higher strung natiire of 
Colonel Feraud. Passing through Magdeburg 
on service this last allowed himself, while 
seated gloomily at dinner with the Commandant 
de Place, to say of his lifelong adversary: 
" This man does not love the emperor " — and 
as his words were received in profound silence 
Colonel Feraud, troubled in his conscience at 
the atrocity of the aspersion, felt the need 
to back it up by a good argument. " I ought 
to know him," he said, adding some oaths. 

[96] 



THE POINT OF HONOK 
" One studies one's adversary. I have met him 
on the ground half a dozen times, as all the 
army knows. What more do you want? If that 
isn't opportunity enough for any fool to size up 
his man, may the devil take me if I can tell what 
is." And he looked around the table with sombre 
obstinacy. 

Later on, in Paris, while feverishly busy reor- 
ganising his regiment. Colonel Feraud learned 
that Colonel D'Hubert had been made a gen- 
eral. He glared at his informant incredulously, 
then folded his arms and turned away mut- 
tering: 

" Nothing surprises me on the part of that 
man." 

And aloud he added, speaking over his shoul- 
der; "You would greatly oblige me by telling 
General D'Hubert at the first opportunity that 
his advancement saves him for a time from a 
pretty hot encounter. I was only waiting for him 
to turn up here." 

The other officer remonstrated. 

" Could you think of it, Colonel Feraud! At 
[97] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
this time when every hfe should be consecrated 
to the glory and safety of France 1 " 

But the strain of unliappiness caused by miU- 
tary reverses had spoiled Colonel Feraud's char- 
acter. Like many other men he was rendered 
wicked by misfortune. 

" I cannot consider General D'Huhert's per- 
son of any account either for the glory or safety 
of France," he snapped viciously. " You don't 
pretend, perhaps, to know him better than I do 
— who have been with him half a dozen times on 
the ground — do you ? " 

His interlocutor, a young man, was silenced. 
Colonel Feraud walked up and down the room. 

" This is not a time to mince matters," he said. 
" I can't believe that that man ever loved the em- 
peror. He picked up his general's stars under the 
boots of Marshal Berthier. Very well. I'll get 
mine in another fashion, and then we shall settle 
this business which has been dragging on too 
long." 

General D'Hubert, informed indirectly of 
Colonel Feraud's attitude, made a gesture as 

[98] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
if to put aside an importunate person. His 
thoughts were solicited by graver cares. He had 
had no time to go and see his family. His sister, 
whose royalist hopes were rising higher every 
day, though proud of her brother, regretted his 
recent advancement in a measure, because it 
put on him a prominent mark of the usurper's 
favour which later on could have an adverse in- 
fluence upon his career. He wrote to her that no 
one but an in\'eterate enemy could say he had 
got his promotion by favour. As to his career he 
assured her that he looked no farther forward 
into the future than the next battlefield. 

Beginning tlie campaign of France in that 
state of mind. General D'Hubert was woimded 
on the second day of tlie battle under Laon. 
While being carried off the field he heard that 
Colonel Feraud, promoted that moment to 
general, had been sent to replace him in the com- 
mand of his brigade. He cursed his luck impul- 
sively, not being able, at the first glance, to dis- 
cern all the advantages of a nasty wound. And 
yet it was by this heroic method that Providence 

[99] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
was shaping his future. Travelling slowly south 
to his sister's country house, under the care 
of a trusty old servant. General D'Hubert was 
spared the humiliating contacts and the perplex- 
ities of conduct which assailed the men of the Na- 
poleonic empire at the moment of its downfall. 
Lying in his bed with the windows of his room 
open wide to the sunshine of Provence, he per- 
ceived at last the undisguised aspect of the bless- 
ing conveyed by that jagged fragment of a 
Prussian shell which, killing his horse and rip- 
ping open his thigh, saved him from an active 
conflict with his conscience. After fourteen years 
spent sword in hand in the saddle and strong in 
the sense of his duty done to the end, General 
D'Hubert foimd resignation an easy virtue. His 
sister was delighted with his reasonableness. " I 
leave myself altogether in your hands, my dear 
Leonie," he had said. 

He was still laid up when, the credit of his 
brother-in-law's family being exerted on his be- 
half, he received from the Royal Government 
not only the confirmation of his rank but the as- 

[100] 




THE POINT OF HijIJOR 
surance of being retained on the actiVP list. To 
this was added an unhmited convalesceirt, leave. 
The unfavourable opinion entertained '-ef him 
in the more irreconcilable Bonapartist ciiick*,.. 
though it rested on nothing more solid than tBe'^ 
unsupported pronouncement of General Feraud, ' 
was directly responsible for General D'Hubert's 
retention on the active list. As to General 
Feraud, his rank was confirmed, too. It was 
more than he dared to expect, but Marshal 
Soult, then Minister of War to the restored 
king, was partial to officers who had served in 
Spain. Only not even the marshal's protection 
could secure for him active employment. He re- 
mained irreconcilable, idle and sinister, seeking 
in obscure restaurants the company of other 
half-pay officers, who cherished dingy but glo- 
rious old tricolour cockades in their breast pock- 
ets, and buttoned with the forbidden eagle but- 
tons their shabby uniform, declaring themselves 
too poor to afford the expense of the prescribed 
change. 

The triumphant return of the emperor, a his- 
[101] 




THE.V*T3INT OF HONOR 
torical faet-laS' •marvellous and incredible as the 
exploits -of ,' "Some mythological demi-god, found 
General 'D'Hubert still quite unable to sit a 
IjQrseC- Neither could he walk very well. These 
;'-.tiGBabilities, which his sister thought most lucky, 
. Vv-'h^lp^d ^^r immensely to keep her brother out of 
'■";■■■ aU possible mischief. His frame of mind at that 
time, she noted with dismay, became very far 
from reasonable. That general officer, still men- 
aced by the loss of a limb, was discovered one 
night in the stables of the chateau by a groom 
who, seeing a light, raised an alarm of thieves. 
His crutch was lying half buried in the straw of 
the litter, and he himself was hopping on one leg 
in a loose box around a snorting horse he was try- 
ing to saddle. Such were the effects of imperial 
magic upon an unenthusiastic temperament and 
a pondered mind. Beset, in the light of stable 
lanterns, by the tears, entreaties, indignation, re- 
monstrances and reproaches of his family, he 
got out of the difficult situation by fainting away 
there and then in the arms of his nearest relatives, 
and was carried off to bed. Before he got out of 

[lOS] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
it again the second reign of Napoleon, the Hiui- 
dred Days of feverish agitation and supreme 
effort passed away hke a terrifying dream. The 
tragic year 1815, heguii in the trouhle and un- 
rest of consciences, was ending in vengeful pro- 
scriptions. 

How General Feraud escaped the clutches 
of the Special Commission and the last offices 
of a firing squad, he never knew himself. It 
was partly due to tlie subordinate position he 
was assigned during the Hundred Days. He 
was not given active command but was kept 
busy at the cavalry depot in Paris, mounting 
and despatching hastily drilled troopers into the 
field. Considering tliis task as unworthy of his 
abilities, he discharged it with no offensively no- 
ticeable zeal. But for the greater part he was 
saved from the excesses of royalist reaction by 
the interference of General D'Hubert. 

This last, still on convalescent leave but able 
now to travel, had been despatched by his sister 
to Paris to present himself to his legitimate sov- 
ereign. As no one in the capital could possibly 

[108] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
know anything of the episode in the stable, 
he was received there with distinction. Military 
to the very bottom of his soul, the prospect of 
rising in his profession consoled him from find- 
ing himself the butt of Bonapartist malevolence 
which pm-sued him with a persistence he could 
not accoimt for. All the rancour of that embit- 
tered and persecuted party pointed to him as 
the man who had never loved the emperor — a 
sort of monster essentially worse than a mere 
betrayer. 

General D'Hubert shrugged his shoulders 
without anger at this ferocious prejudice. Re- 
jected by his old friends and mistrusting pro- 
foundly the advances of royahst society, the 
young and handsome general (he was barely 
forty) adopted a manner of punctilious and cold 
courtesy which at the merest shadow of an in- 
tended sUght passed easily into harsh haughti- 
ness. Thus prepared, General D'Hubert went 
about his affairs in Paris feeling inwardly very 
happy with the peculiar uplifting happiness of 
a man very much in love. The charming girl 

[104] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
looked out by his sister had come upon the scene 
and had conquered him in the thorough manner 
in which a yoimg girl, by merely existing in 
his sight, can make a man of forty her own. 
They were going to be married as soon as Gen- 
eral D'Hubert had obtained his official nomina- 
tion to a promised command. 

One afternoon, sitting on the terrasse of the 
Cafe Tortoni, General D'Hubert learned from 
the conversation of two strangers occupying a 
table near his own that General Feraud, included 
in the batch of superior officers arrested after the 
second return of the king, was in danger of pass- 
ing before the Special Commission. Living all his 
spare moments, as is frequently the case with ex- 
pectant lovers a day in advance of reality, as it 
were, and in a state of bestarred hallucination, it 
required nothing less than the name of his per- 
petual antagonist pronounced in a loud voice to 
call the youngest of Napoleon's generals away 
from the mental contemplation of his betrothed. 
He looked round. The strangers wore civilian 
clothes. Lean and weather-beaten, lolling back 

[lOS] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
in their chairs, they looked at people with moody 
and defiant abstraction from under their hats 
puUed low over their eyes. It was not difficult to 
recognise them for two of the compulsorily re- 
tired officers of the Old Guard. As from bravado 
or carelessness they chose to speak in loud tones. 
General D'Hubert, who saw no reason why he 
should change his seat, heard every word. They 
did not seem to he the personal friends of Gen- 
eral Feraud. His name came up with some others; 
and hearing it repeated General D'Hubert's ten- 
der anticipations of a domestic future adorned by 
a woman's grace were traversed by the harsh re- 
gret of that warlike past, of that one long, intox- 
icating clash of arms, unique in the magnitude of 
its glorj' and disaster— the marvellous work and 
the special possession of his own generation. He 
felt an irrational tenderness toward his old adver- 
sary, and appreciated emotionally the murder- 
ous absurdity their encounter had introduced 
into his life. It was like an additional pinch of 
spice in a hot dish. He remembered the flavour 
with sudden melancholy. He would never taste 

[106] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 



it 



It 



all 



I fancy it 



again, it was all over. . . . " i lancy it was 
being left lying in the garden that had exas- 
perated him so against me," he thought in- 
dulgently. 

The two strangers at the next table had fallen 
silent upon the third mention of General Fe- 
raud's name. Presently, the oldest of the two, 
speaking in a bitter tone, affirmed that General 
Ferand's account was settled. And why? Sim- 
ply because he was not like some big-wigs who 
loved only themselves. The royalists Imew that 
they could never make anything of him. He 
loved the Other too well. 

The Other was the man of St. Helena. The 
two officers nodded and touched glasses before 
they drank to an impossible return. Then the 
same who had spoken before remarked with a 
sardonic httle laugh: 

I " His adversary showed more cleverness." 

I " Wbat adversary? " asked tlie younger as if 

I puzzled. 

I "Don't you know? They were two Hussars. 

I At each promotion they fought a duel. Haven't 

^ [ 107 ] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
you heard of the duel that is going on since 
1801?" 

His friend had heard of the duel, of course. 
Wow he understood the allusion. General Baron 
D'Hubert would be able now to enjoy his fat 
king's favour in peace. 

" Much good may it do to him," mumbled the 
elder. " They were both brave men. I never saw 
this D'Hubert — a sort of intriguing dandy, I 
understand. But I can well beheve what I've 
heard Feraud say once of him — ^that he never 
loved the emperor." 

They rose and went away. 

General D'Hubert experienced the horror of 
a somnambulist who wakes up from a complacent 
dream of activity to find himself walking on a 
quagmire. A profound disgust of the ground on 
which he was making his way overcame him. 
Even the image of the charming girl was swept 
from his view in the flood of moral distress. 
Everything he had ever been or hoped to be 
would be lost in ignominy unless he could man- 
age to save General Feraud from the fate which 

[108] 



I 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
threatened so many braves. Under the impulse of 
this aknost morbid need to attend to the safety of 
his adversary General D'Hubert worked so well 
with hands and feet (as the French saying is) 
that in less than twenty-four hours he found 
means of obtaining an extraordinary private au- 
dience from the Minister of Police. 

Gieneral Baron D'Hubert was shown in sud- 
denly without preliminaries. In the dusk of the 
minister's cabinet, behind the shadowy forms of 
writing desk, chairs, and tables, between two 
bunches of wax candles blazing in sconces, he be- 
held a figure in a splendid coat posturing before 
a tall mirror. The old Conventionel Fouche, ex- 
senator of the empire, traitor to every man, 
every principle and motive of himian conduct, 
Duke of Otranto, and the wily artisan of the 
Second Restoration, was trjong the fit of a court 
suit, in which his young and accomplished fian- 
cee had declared her wish to have his portrait 
painted on porcelain. It was a caprice, a charm- 
ing fancy which the Minister of Police of the 
Second Restoration was anxious to gratify. For 

[109] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
that man, often compared in wiliness of intellect 
to a fox but whose ethical side could be worthily 
symbolised by nothing less emphatic than a 
skunk, was as much possessed by his love as Gen- 
eral D'Hubert himself. 

Startled to be discovered thus by the blunder 
of a servant, he met this little vexation with the 
characteristic effrontery which had served his 
turn so well in the endless intrigues of his self- 
seeking career. Without altering his attitude a 
hair's breadth, one leg in a silk stocking ad- 
vanced, his head twisted over his left shoulder, 
he called out calmly: 

" This way, general. Pray approach. Well? I 
am aU attention." 

While General D'Hubert, as ill at ease as if 
one of his own little weaknesses had been ex- 
posed, presented his request as shortly as possible, 
the minister went on feeling the fit of his collar, 
setthng the lappels before the glass or buckling 
his back in his efforts to behold the set of tlie 
gold-embroidered coat skirts behind. His stiU 
face, his attentive eyes, could not have expressed 

[110] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
a more complete interest in those matters if he 
had been alone. 

" Exclude from the operations of the Special 
Commission a certain Feraud, Gabriel Flori- 
an. General of Brigade of the promotion of 
1814? " he repeated in a slightly wondering tone 
and then turned away from the glass. " Why ex- 
clude him precisely? " 

" I am surprised that your Excellency, so 
competent in the valuation of men of his time, 
should have thought it wortli while to have that 
name put down on the list." 

" A rabid Bonapartist." 

" So is every grenadier and every trooper of 
the army, as your Excellency well knows. And 
the individuality of General Feraud can have 
no more weight than that of any casual gren- 
adier. He is a man of no mental grasp, of no 
capacity whatever. It is inconceivable that he 
sliould ever have any influence." 

" He has a well-himg tongue though," inter- 
jected Fouche." 

*' Noisy, I admit, but not dangerous." 
[in] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
I will not dispute with you. I know next to 
nothing- of him. Hardly his name in fact." 

" And yet your Excellency had the presidency 
of the commission charged by the king to point 
out those who were to he tried," said General 
D'Huhert with an emphasis which did not miss 
the minister's ear. 

" Yes, general," he said> walking away into 
the dark part of the vast room and throwing 
himself into a high-hacked armchair whose over- 
shadowed depth swallowed him up, all but the 
gleam of gold embroideries on the coat and the 
pallid patch of the face. " Yes, general. Take 
that chair there." 

General D'Hubert sat down. 

" Yes, general," continued the arch-master 
in the arts of intrigue and betrayal, whose du- 
plicity as if at times intolerable to his self- 
knowledge worked itself off in bursts of cynical 
openness. " I did hurry on the formation of the 
proscribing commission and took its presidency. 
And do you know why? Simply from fear that if 
I did not take it quickly into my hands my own 

[112] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

name would head the list of the proscribed. Such 
are the times in which we live. But I am minister 
of the king as yet, and I ask you plainly why 
I should take the name of this ohscure Feraud 
off the list? You wonder how his name got there. 
Is it possible that you know men so little? My 
dear general, at the very first sitting of the com- 
mission names pom^ on us like rain off the 
tiles of the Tuileries. Names! We had our 
choice of thousands. How do you know that the 
name of this Feraud, whose life or death don't 
matter to France, does not keep out some other 
name? . . ," 

The voice out of the armchair stopped. Gen- 
eral D'Hubert sat stUl, shadowy, and silent. 
Only his sabre clinked slightly. The voice in 
the armchair began again. " And we must try 
to satisfy the exigencies of the allied sovereigns. 
The Prince de Talleyrand told me only yes- 
terday that Nesselrode had informed him of- 
ficially that his Majesty, the Emperor Alex- 
ander, was very disappointed at the small number 
of examples the government of the king intends 

[113] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
to make — especially amongst niilitary men. I 
tell you this confidentially." 

" 0pon my word," broke out General D'Hu- 
bert, speaking through his teeth, " if your Ex- 
cellency deigns to favour me with any more con- 
fidential infonaation I don't know what I will 
do. It's enough to make one break one's sword 
over one's knee and fling the pieces . . ." 

" What government do you imagine your- 
self to be serving? " interrupted the minister 
sharply. After a short pause the crestfallen voice 
of General D'Hubert answered: 

" The government of France." 

" That's paying your conscience off with mere 
words, general. The truth is that you are sen-ing 
a government of returned exiles, of men who 
have been without country for twenty years. Of 
men also who have just got over a very bad and 
humiliating fright. . . . Have no illusions on 
that score," 

The Duke of Otranto ceased. He liad relieved 
himself, and had attained his object of strip- 
ping some self-respect off that man who had in- 

[114] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 

conveniently discovered him posturing in a gold- 
embroidered court costume before a mirror. But 
they were a hot-headed lot in the army, and it 
occurred to him that it would be inconvenient 
if a well-disposed general officer, received by him 
on the recommendation of one of the princes, 
were to go and do something rashly scandalous 
directly after a private interview with the min- 
ister. In a changed voice he put a question to the 
point: 

" Your relation— this Feraud? " 

" No. No relation at all." 

"Intimate friend?" 

" Intimate . . . yes. There is between us an 
intimate connection of a nature which makes it 
a point of honour with me to try . . ." 

The minister rang a ijcll without waiting for 
the end of the phrase. When the servant had 
gone, after bringing in a pair of heavy silver can- 
delabra for the writing desk, the Duke of Otranto 
stood up, his breast glistening all over with 
gold in the strong light, and taking a piece of 
paper out of a drawer held it in liis hand osten- 

[115] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

tatiously while he said with persuasive gentle- 
ness: 

" You must not talk of breaking your sword 
across your knee, general. Perhaps you would 
never get another. The emperor shall not return 
this time. . . . Diable d'homme! There was just 
a moment here in Paris, soon after Waterloo, 
when he frightened me. It looked as though he 
were going to begin again. Luckily one never 
does begin again really. You must not think of 
breaking your sword, general." 

General D'Hubert, his eyes fixed on the 
ground, made with his hand a hopeless gesture 
of renunciation. The Minister of Police turned 
his eyes away from him and began to scan de- 
liberately the paper he had been holding up all 
the time. 

" There are only twenty general officers to be 
brought before the Special Commission. Twenty. 
A round nimiber. And let's see, Feraud. Ah, he's 
there ! Gabriel Florian. Parfaitement. That's 
your man. Well, there will be only nineteen ex- 
amples made now." 

£116] 



• 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

General D'Hubert stood up feeling as though 
he had gone through an infectious illness. 

" I must beg your Excellency to keep my in- 
terference a profound secret. I attach the great- 
est importance to his never knowing . . ." 

" Who is going to inform him I should like 
to know," said Fouche, raising his eyes curiously 
to General D'Hubert's white face. " Take one 
of these pens and run it through the name 
yourself. This is the only list in existence. 
If you are careful to take up enough ink no 
one will be able to tell even what was the name 
thus struck out. But, par example, I am not re- 
sponsible for what Clarke will do with him. If 
he persist in being rabid he will be ordered 
by the Minster of War to reside in some 
provincial town under the supervision of the 
pohce." 

A few days later General D'Hubert was say- 
ing to his sister after the first greetings had 
been got over: 

"Ah, my dear Leoniel It seemed to me I 
couldn't get away from Paris quick enough." 

[117] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

" Effect of love," she suggested with a ma- 
licious smile. 

" And horror," added General D'Hubert with 
profound seriousness. " I have nearly died there 
of ... of nausea." 

His face was contracted with disgust. And as 
his sister looked at him attentively lie continued: 

" I have had to see Fouche. I have had an audi- 
ence. I have been in his cabinet. There remains 
with one, after the misfortune of having to 
breathe the air of the same room with that man, 
a sense of diminished dignity, the uneasy feeling 
of being not so clean after all as one hoped one 
was. . . . But you can't understand." 

She nodded quickly several times. She under- 
stood very well on the contrary. She knew her 
brother thoroughly and liked him as he was. 
Moreover, the scorn and loathing of mankind 
were the lot of the Jacobin Fouche, who, exploit- 
- ing for his own advantage every weakness, every 
virtue, every generous illusion of mankind, made 
dupes of his whole generation and died obscurely 
as Duke of Otranto. 

[118] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
" My dear Armand," she said compassionately, 
" what could you want from that man? " 

" Notlnng less than a life," answered General 
D'Hubert. " And I've got it. It had to be done. 
But I feel yet as if I could never forgive the 
necessity to the man I had to save." 

General Feraud, totally unable as is the ease 
with most men to comprehend what was happen- 
ing to him, received the Slinister of War's or- 
der to proceed at once to a small town of Central 
France with feelings whose natural expression 
consisted in a fierce rolling of the eye and sav- 
age grinding of the teeth. But he went. The 
bewilderment and awe at the passing away of the 
state of war — the only condition of society he had 
ever known — the prospect of a world at peace 
frightened him. He went away to his little town 
firmly persuaded that this could not last. There 
he was informed of his retirement from the army, 
and tliat his pension (calculated on the scale of a 
colonel's half-pay) was made dependent on the 
circumspection of his conduct and on the good 
reports of the police. No longer in the army! He 

[119 J 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
felt suddenly a stranger to the earth like a dis- 
erabodied spirit. It was impossible to exist. But 
at first he reacted from sheer increduhty. This 
could not be. It could not last. The heavens 
would fall presently. He called upon thunder, 
earthquakes, natural cataclysms. But nothing 
happened. The leaden weight of an irremediable 
idleness descended upon General Feraud, who, 
having no resources within himself, sank into 
a state of awe-inspiring hebetude. He haunted 
the streets of the little town gazing before him 
with lack-lustre eyes, disregarding the hats 
raised on his passage; and the people, nudging 
each other as he went by, said : " That's poor 
General Feraud. His heart is broken. Behold 
how he loved the emperor! " 

The other Uving wreckage of Napoleonic tem- 
pest to be found in that quiet nook of France 
clustered round him infinitely respectful of that 
sorrow. He himself imagined his soul to be 
crushed by grief. He experienced quickly suc- 
ceeding impulses to weep, to howl, to bite his fists 
till blood came, to lie for days on his bed with 
. [120] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
his head thrust under the pillow ; but they arose 
from sheer ennui, from the anguish of an im- 
mense, indescribable, inconceivable boredom. 
Only his mental inability to grasp the hopeless 
nature of his case as a whole saved him from sui- 
cide. He Dcver even thought of it once. He 
thought of nothing; but his appetite abandoned 
him, and the difficulty of expressing the over- 
whelming horror of his feelings (the most furious 
swearing could do no justice to it) induced 
gradually a habit of silence: — a sort of death to 
a. Southern temperament. 

Great therefore was the emotion amongst the 
anciens militaires frequenting a certain little cafe 
full of flies when one stuffy afternoon " that poor 
General Feraud " let out suddenly a volley of 
formidable curses. 

He had been sitting quietly in his own privi- 
leged comer looking through the Paris gazettes 
with about as much interest as a condemned man 
on the eve of execution could be expected to show 
in the news of the day. A cluster of martial, 
bronzed faces, including one lacking an eye and 

[181] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
another lacking the tip of a nose frost-bitten in 
Russia, surrounded him anxiously. 

" What's the matter, general? " 

General Feraud sat erect, holding the news- 
paper at arm's length in order to make out the 
small print better. He was reading very low to 
himself over again fragments of the intelligence 
which had caused what may be called his resur- 
rection. 

" We are informed ... till now on sick leave 
... is to be called to the command of the 5th 
Cavalry Brigade in . . ." 

He dropped the paper stonily, mumbled once 
more ..." Called to the command "... and 
suddenly gave his forehead a mighty slap. 

" I had almost forgotten him," he cried in 
a conscience-stricken tone. 

A deep-chested veteran shouted across the 
cafe: 

" Some new villainy of tlie government, gen- 
eral? " 

" The villainies of these scoundrels," thun- 
dered General Feraud, " are innumerable. One 

[128 3 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
more, one less! . . ." He lowered his tone. " But 
I will set good order to one of them at least." 

He looked all round the faces. " There's a 
pomaded curled staff officer, the darling of some 
of the marshals who sold their father for a hand- 
ful of English gold. He will fiud out presently 
that I am alive yet," he declared in a dogmatic 
tone. ..." However, this is a private affair. 
An old affair of honour. Bahl Our honour does 
not matter. Here we are driven off with a split 
ear like a lot of cast troop horses — good only for 
a knacker's yard. ^Vho cares for our honour now? 
But it would he like striking a blow for the em- 
peror. . . . Messieurs, I require the assistance 
of two of you." 

Every man moved forward. General Feraud, 
deeply touched by this demonstration, called 
nith visible emotion upon the one-eyed veteran 
cuirassier and the officer of the Chasseurs a 
cheval, who had left the tip of his nose in Russia. 
He excused his choice to the others. 

" A cavalry affair this — you know." 

He was answered with a varied chonis of 
[123] 



THE POINT OF HONOB 
" Parfaitement mon Giniral . . . C'est juste 
. . . Parbleu c'est connu " Everybody was sat- 
isfied. The three left the cafe together, followed 
by cries of " Bonne chance." 

Outside they linked arms, the general in the 
middle. The three rusty cocked hats worn en 
bataille, with a sinister forward slant, barred 
the narrow street nearly right across. The over- 
heated little town of gray stones and red tUes 
was drowsing away its provincial afternoon 
under a blue sky. Far off the loud blows of some 
coopers hooping a cask, reverberated regularly 
between the houses. The general dragged his 
left foot a little in the shade of the walls. 

" That damned winter of 1813 got into my 
bones for good. Never mind. We must take pis- 
tols, that's all. A Uttle lumbago. We must have 
pistols. He's sure game for my bag. My eyes 
are as keen as ever. Always were. You should 
have seen me picking off the dodging Cossacks 
with a beastly old infantry musket. I have a 
natural gift for firearms." 

In this strain General Feraud ran on, holding 



4 



THE POINT 01' HONOR 



his head with owlish 



and 



beak. 



rapacious 

A mere fighter all his life, a cavalry man, a 
sabreur, he conceived war with the utmost sim- 
plicity as in the main a massed lot of personal 
contests, a sort of gregarious duelling. And here 
he had on hand a war of his own. He revived. 
The shadow of peace had passed away from him 
like the shadow of death. It was a marvellous 
resurrection of the named Feraud, Gabriel 
Florian, engagi volontaire of 1793, general of 
1814, buried without ceremony by means of a 
service order signed by the War Minister of the 
Second Restoration, 



[1S6] 



IV 



No man succeeds in everything he under- 
takes. In that sense we are all failures. 
The great point is not to fail in ordering 
and sustaining the effort of our life. In this mat- 
ter vanity is what leads us astray. It is our vanity 
which hurries us into situations from which we 
must come out damaged. Whereas pride is our 
safeguard by the reserve it imposes on the choice 
of our endeavour, as much as by the virtue of its 
sustaining power. 

General D'Hubert was proud and reserved. 
He had not been damaged by casual love affairs 
successful or otherwise. In his war-scarred body 
his heart at forty remained unscratched. Enter- 
ing with reserve into his sister's matrimonial 
plans, he felt himself falling irremediably in love 
as one falls off a roof. He was too proud to be 

[1861 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
frightened. Indeed, the sensation was too de- 
lightful to be alarming. 

The inexperience of a man of forty is a 
much more serious thing than the inexperience 
of a youth of twenty, for it is not helped out 
by the rashness of hot blood. The girl was mys- 
terious, as all young girls are, by the mere effect 
of their guarded ingenuity ; and to him the mys- 
teriousness of that young girl appeared excep- 
tional and fascinating. But there was nothing 
mysterious about tlie arrangements of the match 
which Madame Leonie had arranged. There was 
nothing peculiar, either. It was a very appropri- 
ate match, commending itself extremely to the 
yomig lady's mother (her father was dead) and 
tolerable to the young lady's luicle — an old 
emigre, lately returned from Germany, and per- 
vading cane in hand like a lean ghost of the 
anden regime in a long-skirted brown coat and 
powdered hair, the garden walks of the yoimg 
lady's ancestral home. 

General D'Hubert was not the man to be sat- 
isfied merely with the girl and the fortune — 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
when it came to the point. His pride — and pride 
aims always at true success — would be satisfied 
with nothing short of love. But as pride ex- 
cludes vanity, he could not imagine any reason 
why this mysterious creature, with deep and can- 
did ej'cs of a violet colour, should have any feel- 
ing for him warmer than indifference. The young 
lady (her name was Adele) baffled every at- 
tempt at a clear understanding on that point. It 
is true that the attempts were clumsy and tim- 
idly made, because by then General D'Hubert 
had become acutely aware of the number of his 
years, of his wounds, of his many moral imper- 
fections, of his secret unworthiness — and had in- 
cidentally learned by experience the meaning of 
the word funk. As far as he could make it out 
she seemed to imply that with a perfect confi- 
dence in her mother's affection and sagacity she 
had no pronounced antipathy for the person of 
General D'Hubert; and that this was quite suf- 
ficient for a well-brought-up dutiful young lady 
to begin married Ufe upon. This view hurt and 
tormented the pride of General D'Hubert. And 

tl28] 



THE POINT OF HONOR ^ 

yet, he asked himself with a sort of sweet 
despair, What more could he expect? She 
had a quiet and luminous forehead; her violet 
eyes laughed while the lines of her lips and chin 
remained composed in an admirable gravity. 
All this was set off by such a glorious mass of 
fair hair, by a complexion so marvellous, by such 
a grace of expression, that General D'Hubert 
really never found the opportunity to examine, 
with sufficient detachment, the lofty exigencies 
of his pride. In fact, he became shy of that line 
of inquiry, since it had led once or twice to a cri- 
sis of solitary passion in which it was borne upon 
him that he loved her enough to kill her rather 
than lose her. From such passages, not unknown 
to men of forty, he would come out broken, 
exhausted, remorseful, a little dismayed. He 
derived, however, considerable comfort from 
the quietist practice of sitting up now and then 
half the night by an open window, and medi- 
tating upon the wonder of her existence, like a 
believer lost in the mystic contemplation of his 
faith. 

[1S9] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
It must not be supposed that all these varia- 
tions of his inward state were made manifest to 
the world. General D'Hubert fomid no diffi- 
culty in appearing wreathed in smiles: because, 
in fact, he was very happy. He followed the 
established rules of his condition, sending over 
flowers {from his sister's garden and hot- 
houses) early every morning, and a httle later 
following himself to have lunch with his in- 
tended, her mother, and her emigre uncle. The 
middle of the day was spent in strolling or sit- 
ting in the shade. A watchful deferential gallan- 
try trembling on the verge of tenderness, was 
the note of their intercourse on his side — with a 
playful turn of tlie phrase concealing the pro- 
found trouble of his whole being caused by 
her inaccessible nearness. Late in the afternoon 
General D'Hubert walked home between the 
fields of vines, sometimes intensely miserable, 
sometimes supremely happy, sometimes pen- 
sively sad, but always feeling a special intensity 
of existence: that elation common to artists, 
poets, and lovers, to men haunted by a great pas- 

[180] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

sion, by a noble thought or a new vision of plastic 
beauty. 

The outward world at that time did not exist 
with any si>eeial distinctness for General D'Hu- 
bert. One evening, however, crossing a ridge 
from which he could see both houses, General 
D'Hubert became aware of two figures far down 
the road. The day had been divine. The festal 
decoration of the inflamed sky cast a gentle glow 
on the sober tints of the southern land. The 
gray rocks, the brown fields, the purple undulat- 
ing distances harmonised in luminous accord, ex- 
haled already the scents of the evening. The two 
figures down the road presented themselves like 
two rigid and wooden silhouettes all black on 
the ribbon of white dust. General D'Hubert 
made out the long, straight-cut military capotes, 
buttoned closely right up to the black stocks, 
the cocked hats, the lean earven brown coun- 
tenances — old soldiers — vieilles moustaches! The 
taller of the two had a black patch over one 
eye; the other's hard, dry countenance presented 
some bizarre disquieting peculiarity which, on 

[131] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
nearer approach, proved to be the absence of the 
tip of the nose. Lifting their hands with one 
movement to salute the slightly lame civilian 
walking with a thick stick, they inquired for the 
house where the General Baron D'Hubert lived 
and what was the best way to get speech with 
him quietly. 

" If you think this quiet enough," said 
General D'Hubert, looking round at the ripen- 
ing vine-fields framed in purple lines and 
dominated by the nest of gray and drab walls 
of a village clustering around the top of a 
steep, conical hill, so that the blunt church 
tower seemed but the shape of a crowning rock 
— " if you think this quiet enough you can speak 
to him at once. And I beg you, comrades, to 
speak openly with perfect confidence." 

They stepped back at this and raised again 
their hands to their hats with marked ceremom- 
ousness. Then the one with the chipped nose, 
speaking for both, remarked that the matter was 
confidential enough and to be arranged dis- 
creetly. Their general quarters were in that vil- 

[ 132 ] 



# 
» 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
!age over there where the infernal clodhoppers 
— damn their false royalist hearts — -looked re- 
markably cross-eyed at three unassuming mili- 
tary men. For the present he should only ask for 
the name of General D'Hubert's friends. 

"What friends?" said the astonished Greneral 
D'Huhert, completely off the track. " I am stay- 
ing with my brother-in-law over there." 

" Well, he will do for one," suggested the 
chipped veteran. 

" We're the friends of General Feraud," in- 
terjected the other, who had kept silent till then, 
only glowering with his one eye at the man who 
had never loved the emperor. That was some- 
thing to look at. For even the gold-laced Judases 
who had sold him to the English, the marshals 
and princes, had loved him at some time or other. 
But this man had never loved the emperor. Gen- 
eral Feraud had said so distmctly. 

General D'Hubert felt a sort of inward blow 
in his chest. For an infinitesimal fraction of a 
second it was as if the spinning of the earth had 
become perceptible with an awful, slight rustle 

[138] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

in the eternal stillness of space. But that was the 
noise of the blood in his ears and passed off at 
once. Involuntarily he murmured: 

" Feraudl I had forgotten his existence." 

" He's existing at present, very uncomfortably 
it is true, in the infamous inn of that nest of sav- 
ages up there," said the one-eyed cuirassier drily. 
" We arrived in your parts an hour ago on post 
horses. He's awaiting our return with impa- 
tience. There is hurry, you know. The general 
has broken the ministerial order of sojourn to 
obtain from you the satisfaction he's entitled to 
by the laws of honour, and naturally he's anx- 
ious to have it all over before the gendaTmerie 
gets the scent." 

The other elucidated the idea a little further. 

" GJet back on the quiet— you understand? 
Phittl No one the wiser. We have broken out, 
too. Your friend the king would be glad to cut 
off our scurvy pittances at the first chance. It's a 
risk. But honour before everything." 

General D'Hubert had recovered his power of 
speech. 

[1341 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
So you come like this along the road to in- 
vite me to a throat-cutting match with that — 
that ..." A laughing sort of rage took posses- 
sion of him. 

"Ha! ha! ha! ha!" 

His fists on his hips, he roared without re- 
straint while they stood before him lank and 
straight, as unexpected as though they had 
been shot up with a snap through a trapdoor in 
the gromid. Only four-and-twenty months ago 
the masters of Europe, they had already the air 
of antique ghosts, they seemed less substantial 
in their faded coats than their own narrow shad- 
ows falling so black across the white road^the 
military and grotesque shadows of twenty years 
of war and conquests. They had the outlandish 
appearance of two impertui-bable bronzes of the 
religion of the sword. And General D'Hubert, 
also one of the ex-masters of Europe, laughed 
at these serious phantoms standing in his 
way. 

Said one, indicating the laughing general with 
a jerk of the head: 

[135] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
A merry companion that." 

" There are some of us that haven't smiled 
from the day the Other went away," said his 
comrade. 

A violent impulse to set upon and beat these 
unsubstantial wraiths to the ground frightened 
General D'Hubert. He ceased laughing sud- 
denly. His urgent desire now was to get rid of 
them, to get them away from his sight quickly be- 
fore he lost control of himself. He wondered at 
this fury he felt rising in his breast. But he had 
no time to look into that peculiarity just then. 

" I understand your wish to be done with me 
as quickly as possible. Then why waste time in 
empty ceremonies. Do you see that wood there 
at the foot of that slope? Yes, the wood of pines. 
Let us meet there to-morrow at sunrise. I will 
bring with me my sword or my pistols or both if 
you like." 

The seconds of General Feraud looked at 
each other. 

" Pistols, general," said the cuirassier. 

" So be it. Ail revoir — to-morrow morning. 
[136] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
Till then let me advise you to keep close if you 
don't want the gendarmerie making inquiries 
about you before dark. Strangers are rare in this 
part of the country." 

They saluted in silence. General D'Hubert, 
turning his back on their retreating figures, 
stood still in the middle of the road for a long 
time, biting his lower hp and looking on the 
ground. Then he began to walk straight before 
him, thus retracing his steps till he found himself 
before the park gate of his intended's home. 
Motionless he stared through the bars at the 
front of the house gleaming clear beyond the 
thickets and trees. Footsteps were heard on the 
gravel, and presently a tall stooping shape 
emerged from the lateral alley following the in- 
ner side of the park wall. 

Le Chevalier de Valmassigue, uncle of the 
adorable Adele, ex -brigadier in the army of the 
princes, bookbinder in Altona, afterwards shoe- 
maker (with a great reputation for elegance in 
the fit of ladies' shoes) in another small German 
town, wore silk stockings on his lean shanks, 

[187] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
low shoes with silver buckles, a brocaded waist- 
coat. A long-skirted coat a la Fran^aise covered 
loosely his bowed back. A small three-cornered 
hat rested on a lot of powdered hair tied behind 
in a queue. 

" Monsieur le Chevalier" called General 
D'Hubert softly. 

" What? You again here, mon amil Have you 
forgotten something? " 

" By heavens! That's just it. I have forgfllten 
something. I am come to tell you of it. No — out- 
side. Behind this wall. It's too ghastly a thing 
to be let in at all where she Uves." 

The Chevalier came out at once with that be- 
nevolent resignation some old people display 
towards the fugue of youth. Older by a quar- 
ter of a century than General D'Hubert, he 
looked upon him in the secret of his heart as a 
rather troublesome youngster in love. He had 
heard his enigmatical words very well, but at- 
tached no undue importance to what a mere man 
of forty so hard hit was likely to do or say. The 
turn of mind of the generation of Frenclmien 

[138 1 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
grown up during the years of his exile was 
almost unintelligible to him. Their sentiments ap- 
peared to him miduly violent, lacking fineness 
and measure, their language needlessly exag- 
gerated. He joined the general on the road, 
and they made a few steps in silence, the general 
trying to master his agitation and get proper 
control of his voice. 

" Chevaher, it is perfectly true. 1 forgot some- 
thing. I forgot till half an hour ago that I had 
an urgent affair of honour on my hands. It's in- 
credible but so it is I " 

All was still for a moment. Then in the pro- 
found evening silence of the countiyside the 
thin, aged voice of the Chevalier was heard 
trembling slightly. 

" Monsieur! That's an indignity." 

It was his first thought. The girl born during 
his exile, the posthumous daughter of his poor 
brother, murdered by a band of Jacobins, had 
grown since his return very dear to his old heart, 
whicli had been starving on mere memories of 
affection for so many years. 

[139] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 

" It is an inconceivable thing — I say. A man 
settles such affairs before he thinks of asking for 
a young girl's hand. Why! If you had forgotten 
for ten days longer you would have been mar- 
ried before your memory returned to you. In my 
time men did not forget such things — ^nor yet 
what's due to the feelings of an innocent young 
woman. If I did not respect them myself I would 
quaUfy your conduct in a way which you would 
not Uke." 

General D'Hubert relieved himself frankly by 
a groan. 

" Don't let that consideration prevent you. 
You run no risk of offending her mortally." 

But the old man paid no attention to this lov- 
er's nonsense. It's doubtful whether he even 
heard. 

" What is it? " he asked. " What's the nature 
of . . ." 

" Call it a youthful folly, Monsieur le Cheva- 
lier, An inconceivable, incredible result of . . .'* 

He stopped short. " He will never believe the 
story," he thought. " He will only think I am 

[140] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
taking him for a fool and get offended." General 
D'Hubert spoke up again. " Yes, originating 
in youthful foUy it has become . . ." 

The Chevalier interrupted. 

" Well then it must be arranged." 

" Arranged." 

" Yes. No matter what it may cost your amour 
propre. You should have remembered you were 
engaged. You forgot that, too, I suppose. And 
then you go and forget your quarrel. It's the 
most revolting exhibition of levity I ever heard 
of." 

" Good heavens. Chevalier! You don't imagine 
I have been picking up that quarrel last time I 
was in Paris or anything of the sort. Do 
you?" 

" Eh? What matters the precise date of your 
insane conduct! " exclaimed the ChevaKer testily. 
" The principal thing is to arrange it . . ." 

Noticing General D'Hubert getting restive 
and trying to place a word, the old emigre raised 
his arm and added with dignity: 

" I've been a soldier, too. I would never dare 
[Ul] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
to suggest a doubtful step to the man whose name 
my niece is to bear. I tell you that entre gallants 
hommes an affair can be always arranged." 

" But, saperlotte. Monsieur le Chevalier, it's 
fifteen or sixteen years ago. I was a lieutenant 
of Hussars then." 

The old Chevalier seemed confounded by the 
vehemently despairing tone of this information. 

" You were a lieutenant of Hussars sixteen 
years ago? " he mumbled in a dazed manner. 

" Why, yes! You did not suppose I was made 
a general in my cradle like a royal prince." 

In the deepening purple twilight of the 
fields, spread with vine leaves, backed by a low 
band of sombre crimson in the west, the voice of 
the old ex-ofiicer in the army of the princes 
sounded collected, pu^ictihously civil. 

" Do I dream? Is this a pleasantry? Or do 
you mean me to understand that you have been 
hatching an affair of honour for sixteen years? " 

" It has clung to me for that length of time. 
That is my precise meaning. The quarrel itself 
is not to be explained easily. We have been on 

[14a] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
the ground several times during that time of 
coui-se." 

" What maraiers! What horrible perversion of 
manliness I Nothing can account for such inhu- 
manity but the sanguinary madness of the Revo- 
lution which has tainted a whole generation," 
mused the returned emigrd in a low tone. " Who 
is your adversary? " he asked a little louder. 

" What? My adversary! His name is Feraud." 

Shadowy in his tricorne and old-fashioned 
clothes like a bowed thin ghost of the ancien 
re^me the Chevalier voiced a ghostly memory. 

" I can remember the feud about little Sophie 
Derval between^VIonsieur de Brissac, captain in 
the Bodyguards and d'Anjorrant. Not the pock- 
marked one. The other. The Beau d'Anjorrant 
as they called him. They met three times in 
eighteen months in a most gallant manner. It 
was the fault of that little Sophie, too, who 
•would keep on playing . . ." 

This is nothing of the kind," interrupted 
General D'Hubert. He laughed a little sardon- 
ically. " Not at all so simple," he added. " Nor 

[143] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

yet half so reasonable," he finished inaudibly be- 
tween his teeth and ground them with rage. 

After this sound nothing troubled the silence 
for a long time till the Chevaher asked without 
animation : 

" What is he— this Feraud? " 

'* Lieutenant of Hussars, too— I mean he's a 
general. A Gascon. Son of a blacksmith, I be- 
Heve." 

"There! I thought so. That Bonaparte had a 
special predilection for the canaille. I don't mean 
this for you, D'Hubert. You are one of us, though 
you have served this usurper who . . ." 

" Let's leave him out of this," broke in General 
D'Hubert. 

The Chevalier shrugged his peaked shoulders. 

" A Feraud of sorts. Oifspring of a blacksmith 
and some village troll. . . . See what comes of 
mixing yourself up with that sort of people." 

" You have made shoes yourself. Chevalier." 

" Yes. But I am not the son of a shoemaker. 
Neither are you. Monsieur D'Hubert. You and 
I have something that your Bonaparte's, princes, 

[144] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

dukes, and marshals have not because there's no 
power on earth that could give it to them," re- 
torted the emigre, with the rising animation of a 
man who has got hold of a hopeful argument. 
" Those people don't exist — all these Ferauds. 
Feraudl What is ^f'eraud? A va-nu-pieds dis- 
guised into a general by a Corsican adventurer 
masquerading as an emperor. There is no earthly 
reason for a D'Hubert to s'encanailler by a duel 
with a person of that sort. You can make your 
excuses to him perfectly well. And if the manant 
takes it into his head to decline them you may 
simply refuse to meet him." 
" You say I may do that? " 
" Yes. With the clearest conscience." 
" Monsieur le Chevalier! To what do you think 
you have returned from your emigration? " 

This was said in such a startling tone that the 
old exile raised sharply his bowed head, glimmer- 
ing silvery white under the points of the little 
tricorne. For a long time he made no sound. 

" God knows ! " he said at last, pointing with 
a slow and grave gesture at a tail roadside cross 

[1*6] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
mounted on a block of stone and stretching its 
arms of forged stone all black against tlie darken- 
ing red band in the sky. " God knows 1 If it were 
not for this emblem, which I remember seeing in 
this spot as a child, I would wonder to what we, 
wlio have remained faithful to our God and our 
king, have returned. The very voices of the peo- 
ple have changed." 

" Yes, it is a changed France," said General 
D'Hubert. He had regained his calm. His tone 
was shghtly ironic. " Therefore, I cannot take 
your advice. Besides, how is one to refuse to 
be bitten by a dog that means to bite? It's 
impracticable. Take my word for it. He isn't 
a man to be stopped by apologies or refusals. 
But there are other ways. I could, for instance, 
send a mounted messenger with a word to the 
brigadier of the gendarmerie in Senlac. These 
fellows are liable to arrest on my simple order. It 
would make some talk in the army, both the 
organised and the disbanded. Especially the dis- 
banded. All canaille\ All my comrades once — 
the companions in arms of Armand D'Hubert. 

[146] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

But what need a D'Hubert care what people 
who don't exist may think? Or better still, I 
might get my brother-in-law to send for the 
mayor of the village and give him a hint. No 
more would be needed to get the three ' brigands ' 
set upon with flails and pitchforks and hunted 
into some nice deep wet ditch. And nobody the 
wiser! It has been done only ten miles from 
here to three poor devils of the disbanded Red 
Lancers of the Guard going to their homes. 
What says your conscience, ChevaUer? Can a 
D'Hubert do that thing to three men who do not 
exist? " 

A few stars had come out on the blue obscu- 
rity, clear as crystal, of the sky. The dry, thin 
voice of the Chevalier spoke harshly. 

" Why are you telling me all this? " 

The general seized a withered, frail old hand 
with a strong grip. 

" Because I owe you my fullest confidence. 
^Vho could teU Adele but you? You miderstand 
why I dare not trust my brother-in-law nor yet 
my own sister. Chevaher! I have been so near 

[147] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

doing these things that I tremble yet. You don't 
know how terrible this duel appears to me. And 
there's no escape from it." 

He murmured after a pause, " It's a fatality," 
dropped the Chevalier's passive hand, and said 
in his ordinary conversational voice: 

" I shall have to go without seconds. If it is 
my lot to remain on the ground, you at least 
will know all that can be made known of this 
affair." 

The shadowy ghost of the ancien regime 
seemed to have become more bowed during the 
conversation. 

" How am I to keep an indifferent face this 
evening before those two women ? " he groaned. 
" Generall I find it very difficult to forgive you." 

General D'Huhert made no answer. 

" Is your cause good at least? " 

" I am innocent." 

This time he seized the Chevaher's ghostly arm 
above the elbow, gave it a mighty squeeze. 

" I must kill him," he hissed, and opening his 
hand strode away down the road. 

[148] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
The delicate attentions of his adoring sister 
had secured for the general perfect liberty of 
movement in the house where he was a guest. He 
had even his own entrance through a small door 
in one comer of the orangery. Thus he was not 
exposed that evening to the necessity of dissem- 
bling his agitation before the calm ignorance of 
the other inmates. He was glad of it. It seemed 
to him that if he had to open his lips, he would 
break out into horrible imprecation, start break- 
ing furniture, smashing china and glasses. From 
the moment he opened the private door, and 
while ascending the twenty-eight steps of wind- 
ing staircase, giving access to the corridor on 
which his room opened, he went through a hor- 
rible and humiliating scene in which an infuri- 
ated madman, with bloodshot eyes and a foam- 
ing mouth, played inconceivable havoc with 
everything inanimate that may be found in a 
well-appointed dining room. When he opened 
the door of his apartment the fit was over, and his 
bodily fatigue was so great that he had to catch at 
the backs of the chairs as he crossed the room to 

[149] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
reach a low and broad divan on which he let him- 
self fall heavily. His moral prostration was still 
greater. That brutality of feeling, which he had 
known only when charging sabre in hand, 
amazed this man of forty, who did not recognise 
in it the instinctive fmy of his menaced passion. 
It was the revolt of jeopardised desire. In his 
mental and bodily exhaustion it got cleared, fined 
down, purified into a sentiment of melancholy 
despair at having, perhaps, to die before he had 
taught this beautiful girl to love him. 

On that night General D'Hubert, either 
stretched on his back with his hands over his eyes 
or lying on his breast, with his face buried 
in a cushion, made the full pilgrimage of emo- 
tions, Nauseating disgust at the absurdity of the 
situation, dread of tlie fate that could play such 
a vile trick on a man, awe at the remote conse- 
quences of an apparently insignificant and ridicu- 
lous event in his past, doubt of his own fitness to 
conduct his existence and mistnist of his best 
sentiments — for what the devil did he want to go 
to Fouche for? — he knew them all in turn. " I am 

[150] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

an idiot, neitlier more nor less," he thought. " A 
sensitive idiot. Because I overheard two men talk 
in a cafe ... I am an idiot afraid of lies — 
whereas in life it is only truth that matters." 

Several times he got up, and walking about 
in his socks, so as not to he heard by anybody 
downstairs, drank all the water he could find in 
the dark. And he tasted the torments of jealousy, 
too. She would marry somebody else. His very 
soul vn-ithed. The tenacity of that Feraud, the 
awful persistence of that imbecile brute came to 
him with the tremendous force of a relentless fa- 
tality. General D'Hubert trembled as he put 
down the empty water ewer. " He will have me," 
he thought. General D'Hubert was tasting every 
emotion that life has to give. He had in his dry 
mouth the faint, sickly flavour of fear, not the 
honourable fear of a young girl's candid and 
amused glance, but the fear of death and the 
honourable man's fear of cowardice. 

But if true courage consists in going out to 
meet an odious danger from which our body, 
soul and heart recoil together General D'Hu- 

[161] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
bert had the opportunity to practise it for the 
first time in his life. He had charged exultingly 
at hatteries and infantry squares and ridden with 
messages through a hail of bullets without think- 
ing anything about it. His business now was to 
sneak out unheard, at break of day, to an ob- 
scure and revolting death. General D'Hubert 
never hesitated. He carried two pistols in a 
leather bag which he slung over his shoulder. 
Before he had crossed the garden his mouth was 
dry again. He picked two oranges. It ^is only 
after shutting the gate after him that he felt a 
shght faintness. 

He stepped out disregarding it, and after 
going a few yards regained the command of his 
legs. He sucked an orange as he walked. It was 
a colourless and pellucid dawn. The wood of 
pines detached its columns of brown trunks and 
its dark-green canopy very clearly against the 
rocks of the gray hillside behind. He kept his eyes 
fixed on it steadily. That temperamental, good- 
humoured coolness in the face of danger, which 
made him an officer liked by his men and appre- 

[isa] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
dated by his superiors, was gradually asserting 
itself. It was like going into battle. Arriving at 
the edge of the wood he sat down on a boulder, 
holding the other orange in his hand, and thought 
that he had come ridiculously early on the 
ground. Before very long, however, he heard the 
swishing of bushes, footsteps on the hard ground, 
and the sounds of a disjointed loud conversation. 
A voice somewhere behind him said boastfully, 
" He's game for my bag." 

He thought to himself, " Here they are. 
What's this about game? Are they talking of 
me? " And becoming aware of the orange in his 
hand he thought further, " These are very good 
oranges. Leonie's own tree. I may just as well 
eat this orange instead of flinging it away." 

Emerging from a tangle of rocks and bushes. 
General Feraud and his seconds discovered Gen- 
eral D'Hubert engaged in peeling the orange. 
They stood still waiting till he looked up. Then 
the seconds raised their hats, and General Fe- 
raud, putting his hands behind his back, walked 
aside a httle way. 

[158] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
I am compelled to ask one of you, messieurs, 
to act for me. I have brought no friends. Will 
you? " 

The one-eyed cuirassier said judicially: 

" That cannot be refused." 

The other veteran remarked : 

" It's awkward all the same." 

" Owing to the state of the people's minds 
in this part of the country there was no one I 
could trust with the object of your presence 
here," explained General D'Hubert urbanely. 
They saluted, looked round, and remarked both 
together: 

" Poor groimd." 

" It's unfit." 

" Why bother about ground, measurementit 
and so on. Let us simplify matters. Load the 
two pairs of pistols. I will take those of General 
Feraud and let him take mine. Or, better still, 
let us take a mixed pair. One of each pair. Then 
we will go into the wood while you remain out- 
side. We did not come here for ceremonies, but 
for war. War to the death. Any ground is good 

[154] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
enough for that. If I fall you must leave me 
where I he and clear out. It wouldn't be healthy 
for you to be found hanging about here after 
that." 

It appeared after a short parley that General 
Feraud was willing to accept these conditions. 
While the seconds were loading the pistols he 
could be heard whistling, and was seen to rub his 
hands with an air of perfect contentment. He 
flung off his coat briskly, and General D'Hubert 
took off his own and folded it carefully on a 
stone. 

" Suppose you take your principal to the 
other side of the wood and let him enter exactly 
I in ten minutes from now," suggested General 
D'Hubert calmly, but feehng as if he were giv- 
ing directions for his own execution. This, how- 
ever, was his last moment of weakness. 

" Wait! Let us compare watches first." 

He pulled out his own. The oflicer with the 
chipped nose went over to borrow the watch of 
General Feraud. They bent their heads over 



them for a time. 



[155] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
That's it. At four minutes to five by yours. 
Seven to, by mine." 

It was the cuirassier who remained by the side 
of General D'Hubert, keeping his one eye fixed 
immovably on the white face of the watch he held 
in the palm of his hand. He opened his mouth 
wide, waiting for the beat of the last second, long 
before he snapped out the word: 

" AvancezI " 

General D'Hubert moved on, passing from 
the glaring sunshine of the Provencal morning 
into the cool and aromatic shade of the pines. 
The ground was clear between the reddish 
trunks, whose multitude, leaning at slightly dif- 
ferent angles, confused his eye at first. It was 
like going into battle. The commanding quaUty 
of confidence in himself woke up in his breast. 
He was all to his affair. The problem was how 
to kill his adversary. Nothing short of that would 
free him from this imbecile nightmare. " It's no 
use wounding that brute," he thought. He 
known as a resourceful officer. His comrades 
years ago, used to call him " the strategist." And 

[166] 



was ^M 
ides, ^M 
And T 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
it was a fact that he could think in the presence 
of the enemy, whereas Feraud had heen always a 
mere fighter. But a dead shot, unluckily. 

" I must draw his fire at the greatest possible 
range," said General D'Hubert to himself. 

At that moment he saw something white mov- 
ing far off between the trees. The shirt of his 
adversary. He stepped out at once between the 
trunks exposing himself freely, then quick as 
lightning leaped back. It had been a risky move, 
but it succeeded in its object. Almost simultane- 
ously with the pop of a shot a small piece of 
bark chipped off by the bullet stung his ear 
painfully. 

And now General Feraud, with one shot ex- 
pended, was getting cautious. Peeping round his 
sheltering tree. General D'Hubert could not see 
him at all. This ignorance of his adversary's 
whereabouts carried with it a sense of insecur- 
ity. General D'Hubert felt himself exposed on 
his flanks and rear. Again something white flut- 
tered in his sight. Ha! The enemy was still on 
his front then. He had feared a turning raove- 

[157] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
iiient. But, apparently, General Feraud was not 
thinking of it. General D'Hubei-t saw him pass 
without special haste from one tree to another in 
the straight line of approach. With great firm- 
ness of mind General D'Hubert stayed his hand. 
Too far yet. He knew he was no marksman. His 
must be a waiting game — to kill. 

He sank down to the ground wishing to take 
advantage of the greater thickness of the trunk- 
Extended at full length, head on to his enemy, 
he kept his person completely protected. Expos- 
ing himself would not do now because the other 
was too near by this time. A conviction that 
Feraud would presently do something rash was 
like balm to General D'Hubei-t's soul. But to 
keep his chin raised off the ground was irksome, 
and not much use either. He peeped round, ex- 
posing a fraction of his head, with dread but 
really with little risk. His enemy, as a matter of 
fact, did not expect to see anything of him so 
low down as that. General D'Hubert caught a 
fleeting view of Grcneral Feraud shifting trees 
again with deliberate caution. " He despises my 

[158] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
shooting," he thought, with that insight into the 
mind of his antagonist which is of such great 
help in winning battles. It confirmed him in his 
tactics of immobility. " Ah I if I only could watch 
my rear as well as my front! " he tliought, long- 
ing for the impossible. 

It required some fortitude to lay his pistols 
down. But on a sudden impulse General D'Hu- 
bert did this very gently- — one on each side. 
He had been always looked upon as a bit of a 
dandy, because he used to shave and put on a 
clean shirt on the days of battle. As a matter 
of fact be had been always very careful of his 
personal appearance. In a man of nearly forty, 
in love with a young and charming girl, this 
praiseworthy self-respect may run to such little 
weaknesses as, for instance, being provided with 
an elegant leather folding case containing a small 
ivory comb and fitted with a piece of looking- 
glass on the outside. General D'Hubert, his 
hands being free, felt in Iiis breeches pockets for 
that implement of innocent vanity, excusable in 
the possessor of long silky moustaches. He dre^v 

[159] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

it out, and then, with the utmost coohiess and 
promptitude, turned himself over on his back. 
In this new attitude, his head raised a httle, hold- 
ing the looking-glass in one hand just clear of 
his tree, be squinted into it with one eye while 
the other kept a direct watch on tlie rear of his 
position. Thus was proved Napoleon's saying, 
that for a French soldier the word impossible 
does not exist. He had the right tree nearly 
filling the field of his little mirror. 

" If he moves from tliere," he said to himself 
exultingly, " I am bound to see his legs. And in 
any case he can't come upon me unawares." 

And sure enough he saw the boots of General 
Feraud flash in and out, eclipsing for an instant 
everything else reflected in the Httle mirror. He 
shifted its position accordingly. But having to 
form his judgment of the change from that in- 
direct view, he did not realise that his own feet 
and a portion of his legs were now in plain and 
startling view of General Feraud. 

General Feraud had been getting gradually 
impressed by the amazing closeness with which 

[160] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
his enemy had been keeping cover. He had 
spotted the right tree with bloodthirsty precision. 
He was absolutely certain of it. And yet he had 
not been able to sight as much as the tip of an 
ear. As he had been looking for it at the level of 
about five feet ten inches it was no great won- 
der — but it seemed very wonderful to General 
Feraud. 

The first view of these feet and legs deter- 
mined a rush of blood to his head. He literally 
staggered behind his tree, and had to steady 
himself with his hand. The other was lying on 
the ground — on the ground! Perfectly still, too! 
Exposed! What did it mean? . . , The notion 
that he had knocked his adversary over at the 
first shot then entered General Feraud's head. 
Once there, it grew with every second of atten- 
tive gazing, overshadowing every other suppo- 
sition — irresistible — triumphant — ferocious. 

" What an ass I was to think I could have 
nussed him ! " he said to himself. " He was ex- 
posed en plein — the fool — for quite a couple of 
seconds." 

[161] 




THE POINT OF HONOH 

And the general gazed at the motionless 
limbs, the last vestiges of surprise fading before 
an unbounded admiration of his skilh 

" Turned up his toesl By the god of war that 
was a shot!" he continued mentally. "Got it 
through the Iiead just where I aimed, staggered 
behind that tree, rolled over on his back and 
died." 

And he stared. He stared, forgetting to move, 
almost awed, almost sorry. But for nothing in 
the world woidd he have had it undone. Such a 
shotl Such a shot I HoUed over on his back, and 
died! 

For it was tliis helpless position, lying on the 
hack, that shouted its sinister evidence at Gen- 
eral Feraud. He could not possibly imagine that 
it might have been deliberately assumed by a liv- 
ing man. It was inconceivable. It was beyond 
the range of sane supposition. There was no 
possibility to guess the reason for it. And it must 
be said that General D'Hubert's turned-up feet 
looked thoroughly dead. General Feraud ex- 
panded his lungs for a stentorian shout to his 

[163] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

seconds, but from what he felt to be an exces3i\e 
scrupulousness, refrained for a while. 

" I will just go and see first whether he 
breathes yet," he mumbled to himself, stepping 
out from behind his tree. Tliis was immediately 
perceived by the resourceful General D'Hubert. 
He concluded it to be another shift. When he 
lost the boots out of the field of the mirror, he be- 
came uneasy. General Feraud had only stepped 
a little out of the line, but his adversary could 
not possibly have supposed him walking up with 
perfect unconcern. General D'Hubert, begin- 
ning to wonder where the other had dodged to, 
was come upon so suddenly that the first warn- 
ing he had of his danger consisted in the long, 
early-morning shadow of his enemy falling 
aslant on his outstretched legs. He had not even 
heard a footfall on the soft ground between the 
trees I 

It was too much even for his coolness. He 
jumped up instinctively, leaving the pistols on 
the ground. The irresistible instinct of most peo- 
ple (unless totally paralysed by discomfiture) 

[163] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
would have been to stoop — exposing themselves 
to the risk of being sliot down in that position. 
Instinct, of course, is irreflective. It is its very 
definition. But it may be an inquiry worth 
pursuing, whether in reflective mankind the me- 
chanical promptings of instinct are not affected 
by the customary mode of thought. Years ago, 
in his young days, Armand D'Hubert, the re- 
flective promising officer, had emitted the opin- 
ion that in warfare one should " never cast 
back on the lines of a mistake." This idea after- 
ward restated, defended, developed in many dis- 
cussions, had settled into one of the stock notions 
of his brain, became a part of his mental in- 
dividuality. And whether it had gone so incon- 
ceivably deep as to affect the dictates of his in- 
stinct, or simply because, as he himself declared, 
he was " too scared to remember the confound- 
ed pistols," the fact is that General D'Hubert 
never attempted to stoop for them. Instead of 
going back on his mistake, he seized the rough 
trunk with both hands and swung himself be- 
hind it with such impetuosity that going right 

[164] 



w 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
round in the very flash and report of a pistol 
shot, he reappeared on the other side of the tree 
face to face with General Feraud, who, com- 
pletely unstrung by such a show of agility on 
the part of a dead man, was trembling yet. A 
very faint mist of smoke hung before his face 
which had an extraordinary aspect as if the 
lower jaw had come unhinged. 

" Not missed! " he croaked hoarsely from the 
depths of a dry throat. 

This sinister sound loosened the spell which 
had fallen on General D'Hubert's senses. 

*' Yes, missed — a bout portant," he heard him- 
self saying exultingly almost before he had re- 
covered the fuU command of his faculties. The 
revulsion of feeling was accompanied by a gust 
of homicidal fury resuming in its violence the 
accumulated resentment of a lifetime. For years 
Genera] D'Hubert had been exasperated and 
humiliated by an atrocious absurdity imposed 
upon him by that man's savage caprice. Besides, 
General D'Hubert had been in this last instance 
too unwilling to confront death for the reaction 



[165] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
of his anguish not to take tlie shape of a desire 
tokiU. 

" And I have my two shots to fire yet," he 
added pitilessly. 

General Feraud snapped his teeth, and his 
face assumed an irate, undaunted expression. 

" Go on," he growled. 

These would have been his last words on earth 
if General D'Hubert had been holding the pis- 
tols in his hand. But the pistols were lying on 
the ground at the foot of a tall pine. General 
D'Hubert had the second's leisure necessary to 
remember that he had dreaded death not as a 
man but as a lover, not as a danger but as 
a rival — not as a foe to Ufe but as an ob- 
stacle to marriage. And, behold, there was the 
rival defeated 1 Miserably defeated — crushed — 
done for ! 

He picked up the weapons mechanically, and 
instead of firing them into General Feraud's 
breast, gave expression to the thought upper- 
most in his mind. 

" You win fight no more duels now." 
[166] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

His tone of leisurely, ineffable satisfaction was 
too much for General Feraud's stoicism. 

" Don't dawdle then, damn you for a cold- 
blooded staff-coxcomb! " he roared out suddenly 
out of an impassive face held erect on a rigid 
body. 

General D'Hubert uncocked the pistols care- 
fully. This proceeding was observed with a sort 
of gloomy astonishment by the other general. 

" You missed me twice." he began coolly, 
sliifting both pistols to one hand. " The last time 
within a foot or so. By every rule of single com- 
bat your life belongs to me. That does not mean 
that I want to take it now." 

" I have no use for your forbearance," mut- 
tered General Feraud savagely. 

" Allow me to point out that this is no concern 
of mine," said General D'Hubert, whose every 
word was dictated by a consimimate delicacy of 
feeling. In anger, he could have killed that man, 
but in cold blood, he recoiled from humiliating 
this unreasonable being — a fellow soldier of the 
Grand Armee, his companion in the wonders and 

[167] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
terrors of the military epic. " You don't set up 
the pretension of dictating to me what I am to 
do with what is my own." ^ 

General Feraud looked startled. And the 
other continued: 

" You've forced me on a point of honour to 
keep ray life at your disposal, as it were, for fif-. 
teen years. Very well. Now that the matter is^«- 
cided to my advantage, I am going to do what 
I like with your life on tlie same principle. You 
shall keep it at my disposal as long as I choose. 
Neither more nor less. You are on your honour." 

" I am! But sacrebleul This is an ahsurd posi- 
tion for a general of the empire to he placed 
in," cried General Feraud, in the accents of pro- 
found and dismayed conviction. " It means for 
me to he sitting all the rest of my life with a 
loaded pistol in a drawer waiting for your word. 
It's . . . it's idiotic. I shall be an object of . . . 
of . . . derision." 

"Absurd? . . . Idiotic? Do you think so?" 
queried argumentatively General D'Huhert with 
sly gravity. " Perhaps. But I don't see how 

[168] 



f 

L 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
that can be helped. However, I am not likely to 
talk at large of this adventure. Nobody need 
ever know anything about it. Just as no one to 
this day, I believe, knows the origin of our quar- 
rel. . . . Not a word more," he added hastily. 
" I can't reaUy discuss this question with a man 
who, as far as I am concerned, does not exist." 
* When the duellists came out into the open, 
General Feraud walking a little behind and 
rather with the air of walking in a trance, the 
two seconds hurried towards them each from his 
station at the edge of the wood. General D'Hu- 
bert addressed them, speaking loud and dis- 
tinctly: 

" Messieurs I I make it a point of declaring to 
you solemnly in the presence of General Feraud 
that our difference is at last settled for good. 
You may inform all the world of that fact." 

"A reconcihation after all!" they exclaimed 
trgether. 

" Reconciliation? Not that exactly. It is some- 
thing much more binding. Is it not so, general? " 

General Feraud only lowered his head in sign 
[169] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
of assent. The two veterans looked at each other. 
Later in the day when they found themselves 
alone, out of their moody friend's earshot, the 
cuirassier remarked suddenly: ^M 

" Generally speaking. I can see with my one 
eye as far or even a little farther than most peo-j 
pie. But this beats me. He won't say anything.' 

"In this affair of honour I understand there' 
has heen from first to last always something that 
no one in the army could quite make out," de-j 
clared the chasseur with the imperfect nose. " lal 
mystery it began, in mystery it went on, and in] 
mystery it is to end apparently. . . ." 

General D'Hubert walked home with long, 
hasty strides, by no means uplifted by a sense ^ 
of triumph. He had conquered, but it did not^l 
seem to him he had gained very much by his 
conquest. The night before he had grudged the 
risk of his life which appeared to him magnif- 
icent, worthy of preservation as an opportunity 
to win a girl's love. He had even moments when 
by a marvellous illusion this love seemed to him 
already his and his threatened life a still more 

[170] 



I 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
magnificent opportunity of devotion. Now that 
his life was safe it had suddenly lost it special 
magnificence. It wore instead a specially alarm- 
ing aspect as a snare for the exposure of un- 
worthiness. As to the marvellous illusion of con- 
quered love that had visited him for a moment 
in the agitated watches of the night which might 
have heen his last on earth, he comprehended now 
its true nature. It had been merely a paroxysm 
of delirious conceit. Thus to this man sobered by 
the victorious issue of a duel, life appeared robbed 
of much of its charm simply because it was no 
longer menaced. 

Approaching the house from the back 
through the orchard and the kitchen gardens, 
he could not notice the agitation which reigned 
in front. He never met a smgle soul. Only up- 
stairs, while . walking softly along the corridor, 
he became aware that the house was awake and 
much more noisy than usual. Names of servants 
were beuig called out down below in a confused 
noise of coming and going. He noticed with some 
concern that the door of his own room stood ajar, 

[171] 




THE POINT OF HONOR 
though the shutters had not been opened yet. He 
had hoped that his early excursion would have 
passed unperceived. He expected to find some 
servant just gone in; hut the sunshine filtering^B 
through the usual cracks enabled him to see 
lying on the low divan something bulky which 
had the appearance of two women clasped in 
each other's arms. Tearful and consolatory mur- 
murs issued mysteriously from that appearance. 
General D'Hubert pulled open the nearest pairj 
of shutters violently. One of the women then, 
jumped up. It was his sister. She stood for a mo- 
ment with her hair hanging down and her arms 
raised straight up above her head, and then 
flung herself with a stifled cry into his arms. 
He returned her embrace, trying at the same 
time to disengage himself from it. The other 
woman had not risen. She seemed, on the 
contrary, to cling closer to the divan, hiding her 
face in the cushions. Her hair was also loose; it] 
was admirably fair. General D'Hubert recog-. 
nised it with staggering emotion. Mile, de Val- 
massigue! Adele! In distress 1 

[17«] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

He became greatly alarmed and got rid of his 
sister's hug definitely. Madame Leonie then ex- 
tended her shapely bare arm out of her peignoir, 
pointing dramatically at the divan: 

" This poor terrified child has rushed here 
two miles from home on foot — running all the 
way." 

" What on earth has happened? " asked Gen- 
eral D'Huhert in a low, agitated voice. But 
Madame Leonie was speaking loudly. 

" She rang the great bell at the gate and 
roused all the household — we were all asleep yet. 
You may imagine what a terrible shock. . . . 
Adele, my dear child, sit up." 

General D'Hubert's expression was not that 
of a man who imagines with facUity. He did, 
however, fish out of chaos the notion that his 
prospective mother-in-law had died suddenly, 
but only to dismiss it at once. He could not con- 
ceive the nature of the event, of the catastrophe 
which could induce Mile, de Valmassigue living 
in a house full of servants, to bring the news over 
the fields herself, two miles, running all the way. 

[173] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 

But why are you in this room?" he whis- 
pered, full of awe. 

" Of course I ran up to see and this child . . . 
I did not notice it — she followed me. It's that 
absurd Chevalier," went on Madame Leonie, 
looking towards the divan. ..." Her hair's 
come down. You may imagine she did not stop to 
call her maid to dress it before she started. . . . 
Adele, my dear, sit up. . . . He blurted it 
all out to her at half-past four in the morning. 
She woke up early, and opened her shutters, 
to breathe the fresh air, and saw him sitting col- 
lapsed on a garden bench at the end of the great 
alley. At that hour— you may imagine ! And the 
evening before he had declared himself indis- 
posed. She just hurried on some clothes and flew 
down to him. One would be anxious for less. He 
loves her, but not very intelligently. He had been 
up all night, fuUy dressed, the poor old man, 
perfectly exhausted! He wasn't in a state to in- 
vent a plausible story. . . . What a confidant 
you chose there! . . . My husband was furious 1 
He said: 'We can't interfere now.' So we sat 

[174] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
down to wait. It was awful. And this poor child 
running over here publicly with her hair loose. 
She has been seen by people in the fields. She has 
roused the whole Iiousehold, too. It's awkward 
for her. Luckily you are to be married next week. 
. . . Adele, sit up. He has come home on his own 
legs, thank God, . . . We expected you to come 
back on a stretcher perhaps — what do I know? 
Go and see if the carriage is ready. I must take 
this child to her mother at once. It isn't proper 
for her to stay here a minute longer." 

General D'Hubert did not move. It was as 
though he had heard nothing. Madame Leonie 
changed her mind. 

" I will go and see to it myself," she said. " I 
want also to get my cloak . . . Adele ..." she 
began, but did not say " sit up." She went out 
saying in a loud, cheerful tone: " I leave the door 
open." 

General D'Hubert made a movement towards 
the divan, but then Adele sat up and that 
checked him dead. He thought, " I haven't 
washed this morning. I must look like an old 

[175] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
tramp. There's earth on the back of my coal, and 
pine needles in my hair." It occurred to him that 
the situation required a good deal of circumspec- 
tion on his part, 

" I am greatly concerned, mademoiselle," he 
began timidly, and abandoned that line. She was 
sitting up on the divan with her cheeks unusually 
pink, and her hair brilliantly fair, faUing all over 
her shoulders — which was a very novel sight to 
the general. He walked away up the room 
and, looking out of the window for safety, 
said : " I fear you must think I behaved like a 
madman," in accents of sincere despair. . . . 
Then he spun round and noticed that she had 
followed liim with her eyes. They were not cast 
down on meeting his glance. And the expres- 
sion of her face was novel to him also. It was, one 
might have said, reversed. Her eyes looked at 
him with grave thoughtfulness, whUe tlie exquisite 
lines of her mouth seemed to suggest a restrained 
smile. This change made her transcendental 
beauty much less mysterious, much more accessi- 
ble to a man's comprehension. An amazing ease 

£176] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
of mind came to the general — and even some ease 
of manner. He walked down the room with as 
much pleasurable excitement as he would have 
found in walking up to a battery vomiting 
death, fire, and smoke, then stood looking down 
with smiling eyes at the girl whose marriage with 
him (next week) had been so carefully arranged 
by the wise, the good, the admirable Leonie. 

" Ah, mademoiselle," he said in a tone of court- 
ly deference. " If I could be certain that you did 
not come here tliis morning only from a sense of 
duty to your mother I " 

He waited for an answer, imperturbable but 
inwardly elated. It came in a demure murmur, 
eyelashes lowered with fascinating effect. 

" You mustn't be mechant as well as mad." 

And then General D'Hubert made an aggres- 
sive movement towards the divan which nothing 
could check. This piece of fm-niture was not ex- 
actly in the line of the open door. But Madame 
Leonie, coming back wrapped up in a light cloak 
and carrjang a lace shawl on her arm for Adele to 
hide her incriminating hair imder, had a vague 

[177] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
impression of her brother getting up from his 
knees. 

" Come along, my dear child," she cried from 
the doorway. 

The general, now himself again in the fullest 
sense, showed the readiness of a resourceful cav- 
alry officer and the peremptoriness of a leader 
df men. 

" You don't expect her to walk to the car- 
riage," he protested. " She isn't fit. I will carry 
her downstairs." 

This he did slowly, followed by his awed and 
respectful sister. But he rushed back like a whirl- 
wind to wash away all the signs of the night of 
anguish and the morning of war, and to put on 
the festive garments of a conqueror before hurry- 
ing over to the other house. Had it not been for 
that, General D'Hubert felt capable of mounting 
a horse and pursuing his late adversary in order 
simply to embrace him from excess of happiness. 
" I owe this piece of luck to that stupid bi"ute," 
he thought. " This duel has made plain in one 
morning what might have taken me years to find 

[178] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
out — for I am a timid fool. No self-confidence 
whatever. Perfect coward. And tlie Chevalier! 
Dear old man ! " General D'Hubert longed to 
embrace him, too. 

The Chevalier was in bed. For several days he 
was much indisposed. The men of the empire, 
and the post-revolution young ladies, were too 
much for him. He got up the day before the wed- 
ding, and being curious by nature, took his niece 
aside for a quiet talk. He advised her to find out 
from her husband the true story of the affair of 
honour, whose claim so imperative and so persist- 
ent had led her to within an ace of tragedy. " It 
is very proper that his wife should know. And 
next month or so will be your time to learn from 
him anything you ought to know, my dear f 
child." 

Later on when the married couple came on a 
visit to the mother of the bride, Madame la Gen- 
erale D'Hubert made no difficulty in communi- 
cating to her beloved old uncle what she had 
learned without any difficulty from her husband. 
The Chevalier listened with profound attention 

[ 179 ] - 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
to the end, then took a pinch of snuff, shook the 
grains of tobacco off the frilled front of his shirt, 
and said cabnly : " And that's all what it was." 

" Yes, uncle," said Madame la Generale, 
opening her , pretty eyes very wide. " Isn't it 
funny? C'est insense — to think what men are 
capable of." 

" H'm," commented the old fmigrS. " It de- 
pends what sort of men. That Bonaparte's sol- 
diers were savages. As a wife, my dear, it is 
proper for you to believe implicitly what your 
husband says." 

But to Leonie's husband the ChevaUer confided 
his true opinion. " If that's the tale the fellow 
made up for his wife, and during the honeymoon, 
too, you may depend on it no one will ever know 
the secret of this affair." 

Considerably later still. General D'Hubert 
judged the time come, and the opportunity pro- 
pitious to write a conciliatory letter to General 
Feraud. " I have never," protested the General 
'Baron D'Hubert, " wished for your death dur- 
ing all the time of our deplorable quarrel. Allow 

[180] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
me to give you back in all form your forfeited 
life. We two, who have been partners in so much 
military glory, should be friendly to each other 
publicly." 

The same letter contained also an item of do- 
mestic information. It was alluding to this last 
that General Feraud answered from a little vil- 
lage on the banks of the Garonne : 

" If one of your boy's names had been Napo- 
leon, or Joseph, or even Joachim, I could con- 
gratulate you with a better heart. As you have 
thought proper to name him Charles Henri Ar- 
mand I am confirmed in my conviction that you 
never loved the emperor. The thought of that 
sublime hero chained to a rock in the middle of a 
savage ocean makes life of so little value that I 
would receive with positive joy your instructions 
to blow my brains out. From suicide I consider 
myself in honour debarred. But I keep a loaded 
pistol in my drawer." 

Sladame la Generale D'Hubert lifted up her 
hands in horror after perusing that letter. 

You see? He won't be reconciled," said her 
[181] 



THE POINT OF HONOR 
husband. " We must take care that he never, by 
any chance, learns where the money he lives on 
comes from. It would be simply appalUng." 

*' You are a brave homme, Armand," said 
Madame la Generale appreciatively. 

" My dear, I had the right to blow his brains 
out— strictly speaking. But as I did not we can't 
let him starve. He has been deprived of his pen- 
sion for ' breach of miUtaiy discipline ' when he 
broke bounds to fight his last duel with me. He's 
crippled with rheumatism. We are bound to take 
care of him to the end of his days. And, after all, 
I am indebted to him for the radiant discovery 
that you loved me a little — you sly person. Ha! 
Ha! Two miles, running aU the way! ... It is 
extraordinary how all through this affair that 
man has managed to engage my deeper feelings." 



THE END 



ri8«] 




The Country Lm: Psess 
Gakdbh City, N. Y. 



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